Explosive growth continues in Coeur d’Alene
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Coeur d’Alene’s population sits at 50,665. That is an increase of over 6,300 since 2010 when the city’s head count was 44,281. In 1990, the city’s population was 24,689.
As one of the nation’s most booming communities, local planners want to know: How should we grow?
And they’re all ears.
Officials on Thursday evening outlined their strategy to plan ahead during a well-attended meeting of Envision Coeur d’Alene, a long-range planning group created to help develop a roadmap to the future and a citywide plan to serve the community from 2020 to 2040.
During a kickoff session attended by about 100 people, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer summed up Envision Coeur d’Alene as “the people’s plan.”
Widmyer told the group that input from every sector is important to plan for a healthy future in a community that has nearly doubled in population since 1990.
“Planning is critical right now for what we want to look like in 2030 and beyond,” the mayor said.
Envision Coeur d’Alene is a collaborative effort between the city of Coeur d’Alene and CDA 2030, a nonprofit community-based organization formed in 2013 to develop a vision for a bright future for greater Coeur d’Alene.
The forward-looking endeavor blends perfectly with the in-progress update of the city’s comprehensive plan — which provides a roadmap on land uses and a guide to how the city will grow. The comp plan has not been updated since 2007.
Envision Coeur d’Alene organizers emphasized the importance of input from every demographic and a wide representation attended Thursday.
Kyla Little, 10, seemed happy to be part of the process.
“I like that people are here to see what’s going to happen around here,” said the Coeur d’Alene girl. “This is where I plan to grow up. I want things to be nice.”
Added Jamison Tyler, 12, also of Coeur d’Alene: “More playgrounds and stuff like that!”
Indeed, open space is a big part of the plan. “Our community is defined by its beautiful, natural resources … the lake and the river,” said Coeur d’Alene community planning director Hilary Anderson. “Preserving our parks, trails and open spaces will be a big part of this plan.”
Helping to facilitate Thursday’s meeting was planning consultant MIG Inc., a nationally renowned firm that has worked on comprehensive plan updates with major cities like Denver and Boston to guide healthy growth. The city has hired MIG to work on its comp plan update.
“We know change is going to happen, the question is how do we manage that and achieve the goals you want to see in your community,” said Alex Dupey, senior project manager for MIG.
“We’re talking about so many different pieces when it comes to growth and how it happens. At the end of the day, it really comes back to you. Your input, the community,” he said.
During an interactive session that included big screen video presentations, colorful community building blocks set on tables, snacks and lots of literature and drawing boards, organizers pitched the importance of public involvement in the planning process.
As the city’s lead planner, Anderson said the officials are leaving all options on the table when it comes to planning ahead.
“The question we all ask is, ‘How should we grow?’” she said. “Should we spread out with our development? Concentrate density south of Interstate 90? Build up? Build out? It’s all part of analyzing how land use will affect us in the next 20 years and beyond. That’s what we want to hear.”
Envision Coeur d’Alene is all about preserving a sense of community while accepting growth will occur in an alluring area, Anderson said.
“We’re one of the fastest growing regions in the country — a very desirable location,” Anderson added. “We know that growth is coming so we need to be proactive on how we want to see that happen.”