If not for former Gov. Cecil Andrus, Inland Northwest residents would have lost access to a major portion of Coeur d’Alene’s Sanders Beach.
A decade ago, the crafty statesman forced the Hagadone Corp. to leave its 500 feet of beach frontage public as part of the floating green lease. In fact, the Democrat pulled off this feat after he was outvoted 3-2 by a Republican majority on the Idaho Land Board.
Ol’ Cece simply dug up a 1927 water rights law that he said gave him power supreme over Idaho waterways. And the rest is history. The Kootenai Environmental Alliance dropped a lawsuit that threatened development of The Coeur d’Alene resort golf course. Hagadone’s dream green became a tourist draw that boosted the local economy. And the public continued to enjoy the eastern end of Sanders Beach.
The deal has worked beautifully for 10 years. It shouldn’t be changed now that the lease is up for renewal. Gov. Phil Batt and the rest of the Idaho Land Board should reject a Hagadone request to remove the Sanders Beach provision from the next lease.
Every square foot of public access to north shore beaches is precious - and should be treated so by governing bodies. Fortunately, the current Land Board knew enough about the original agreement not to accept offhand a staff recommendation to grant Hagadone’s wish. “The board is very cognizant that that was a key issue 10 years ago,” said Ben Ysursa, chief deputy secretary of the state. “I’m sure there will be some hue and cry from up there. … This is one that needs a little more work.”
Bryce Taylor, bureau chief for the Land Department’s surface leasing program, made the recommendation because he thought the state was being unfair to Hagadone. No other leaseholders in the state have the same kind of provisions in their lease, he reasoned.
Then, the floating green is unique in Idaho. When the course opened, Hagadone ballyhooed the floating green as the world’s only one. It certainly transformed a large part of Lake Coeur d’Alene into a private refuge for golfers who can afford the course’s steep fee. Boaters and fishermen now are excluded from using what once was a public area.
Hagadone should be required to continue to give something back to the public. , DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board