Developer George Anderl was just being community-minded when he donated land in March to a youth club for soccer fields.
He never guessed how much this community would mind, he said.
Dozens of residents of the expensive 300-home Lockhaven Estates neighborhood he developed above the lake are irate. They fear the prospect of having dozens of screaming kids, foul language and cheering parents slicing the quiet of their neighborhood.
They also fear they will suffocate in the congestion when already crowded streets are deluged with weekend soccer players, fans and their cars. Curves are so sharp and narrow, it’s a wonder no one’s been killed, they say.
And don’t even mention the impact on property values.
“Personally, I don’t want a soccer field in my back yard,” said homeowner Dennis Goldberg. “It would annoy me on Saturdays and Sundays to hear all that screaming and yelling.”
Residents are so appalled by what they see as Anderl’s “chicanery”- his wife is a founder and officer of the non-profit soccer club - that they are prepared to buy the property if it’s for sale. They have sent more than 20 angry letters to county commissioners.
“Is the Kootenai County sheriff’s office going to get angry every time we call and say there’s a car parked in my yard?” one neighbor asked.
“It’s already a death-defying feat to get out of my driveway,” said resident Joe Venkus.
The controversy kicked in last month when homeowners discovered Anderl had given the 10-acre wooded property on Lookout Drive to the Coeur d’Alene Soccer Club. That club, which helped start varsity soccer in area high schools in the early 1980s, plans two to four fields there for use by 225 youth soccer players. It’s unclear now just how close the playing fields would be to the neighboring homes.
“It will be a nice place for a great sport,” Anderl said. “It’s the only sport where you don’t have to be big or small or tall to play … other than baseball, which is also a great sport.”
Architect Jon Mueller is designing the fields and parking, Anderl said in a letter to county commissioners. Onstreet parking would be discouraged. Developing the fields would take three to five years.
But frustrated and skeptical homeowners say they were led to believe years ago the wildlife-rich natural area would forever remain a park.
“We would not have bought here if it weren’t for that park,” said resident James Corbett. “We certainly wouldn’t have bought knowing it was going to be a soccer field.”
But a soccer field is a park, Anderl said. County development codes agree with him.
Besides, he said, the natural area is a dump - literally. It once housed a sewage treatment lagoon.
“It’s just a trash heap, totally overrun with noxious weeds and dog poop,” Anderl said.
Anderl said he tried six years ago to get residents to form a homeowners association and manage the park as they saw fit. He said he pledged $20,000 in improvements, as he has with the soccer club, but residents didn’t want the hassle.
“What do we know about forming a homeowners association?” asked Roger Bussey. Why should he need one to get Anderl to keep his word, he asked.
Neither side in this dispute is ready to give in.
Anderl believes Goldberg has whipped neighbors into a frenzy because the homeowner is out to get him. Goldberg said Anderl is using a tax write-off as a way of trying to look public-spirited.
The residents are prepared for a court battle if it comes to that.
“There’s plenty of land in Rathdrum, plenty in Hayden,” Goldberg said. “Why does it have to happen here?”
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