Don’t taint the Health Corridor

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Gookin

Iím pleased that the process for creating a Health Corridor is moving forward transparently and with public involvement. Anyone driving the area around Kootenai Health knows that planning could have gone better. Community leaders are eager to work toward a solution.

The current push seems to be for urban renewal to mitigate the problems. Of my many concerns for this solution, one immediate issue is the former Garden Motel, located on Northwest Boulevard. This property is currently in the Downtown/Lake District, set to expire in 2021.

Including the motel property in a potential new Health Corridor district would violate Idaho Code 50-2904, which limits a revenue allocation area to a 20-year lifespan. I believe the intent of the Legislature, and the spirit of the law, is that if urban renewal canít mitigate an issue in 20 years, the government should step out of the way and let the private sector do its job.

Even so, Iíve heard ignite cda staff refer to a potential deannexation of the motel property so that it could be legally included in the new Health District. The current proposed outline of the Health Corridor district boldly includes the property, confirming what Iíve heard. Such a move is underhanded, in my opinion. It tells me that promises were made to the property developer. Such a move seems a step back for ignite, back to the nasty days of LCDC.

The ignite cda board must uphold the law. The developer had a chance. When the Downtown/Lake district expires, so does this chance. Any attempt to deannex the property and then include it in the Health Corridor would confirm that a backroom deal was made, not to benefit the public or the hospital, but to provide specific benefit to an individual property owner whose chance has passed by.

Thereís a reason why LCDC changed its name. The Health Corridor is moving forward in a positive direction. This process need not be tainted. To the ignite cda board I urge: Please donít slide back into old habits of backroom deals, underhanded methods, and crony capitalism when youíve made such great strides toward transparency, honesty, and respect.

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Dan Gookin is a Coeur díAlene resident and member of the City Council.

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