Nation/World

Library Proposal Runs Into Opposition Coeur D’Alene Crowd Turns Out To Keep Mceuen Field Where It Is

(From For the Record, February 13, 1997): Richard LeFrancis, who testifed regarding the proposed library and botanical gardens in Coeur d’Alene Tuesday evening, is not a retired Air Force colonel. The speaker was misidentified in a Wednesday article.

The reader board at Davis Donuts carried the message. “Mrs. McEuen says no.”

That sentiment was echoed by most of the 300 people who turned out for a public hearing Tuesday night on turning McEuen Field into the site of Hagadone Public Library and Botanical Gardens.

The Parks and Recreation Commission emphasized the hearing was held only to gather information and promised another hearing.

Before the meeting broke up, some officials were predicting privately the project won’t last that long.

From young athletes to retired teachers, church groups to Frisbee floaters, residents who packed the Bonner Room at North Idaho College’s student union building said they want the ball fields, park and playground to remain intact.

Only three people spoke in favor of businessman Duane Hagadone’s proposal to donate $2 million to the estimated $6 million project if the city agrees to locate it just east of his hotel. Hagadone owns The Coeur d’Alene Resort and newspapers, including the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Opposition to eventually closing the Third Street boat launch, one part of the proposal, is running high. And while proponents have promised to relocate the recreational facilities, most opponents said they consider new fields, tennis courts and basketball courts at a different location a bad bargain. It’s not possible to build the fields anywhere else and still have Lake Coeur d’Alene and Tubbs Hills right next door, they said.

The American Legion baseball program moved to North Idaho College for two years in the 1980s and the crowds diminished, said Corky Hughes, who works with the team. The Legion’s program has considerable volunteer investment in the McEuen location, he said.

A number of people mortgaged their homes to front the money for new bleachers and then were repaid with volunteer contributions, Hughes noted.

Softball coach Charlie Roan lined up 14 young ball players to make his point. “These are the users being replaced,” he said, sporting his own ball cap.

“I’m asking the Parks Department not to displace these kids’ Field of Dreams.”

Roan worked to refute Hagadone’s claim that McEuen Field is one of the most underutilized public facilities in Coeur d’Alene. Eighteen organized user groups play different sports there, he said.

Untold numbers of others fly kites, walk dogs, picnic and play there. He estimated the facilities are used at least 290,000 times a year.

Some speakers questioned whether adding lights to Ramsey Field and extending summer play hours would work as a replacement for McEuen Field. Children already play until 8:30 p.m. Do parents want that to extend until 11 p.m., Ann Solomon asked.

The proposal elicited anger from people who see it as pitting residents against tourists. And fear and suspicion of the project’s potential benefactor often was evident.

“We feel if Duane Hagadone loves this community, he will still donate $2 million to the library,” said Eileen Johnson, of the Coeur d’Alene Tennis Association. “We can put the garden elsewhere.”

Another man challenged Hagadone to build a boat launch elsewhere and donate it to the public as a show of good faith. One woman characterized the project as simply an “expansion of the (Hagadone) resort.”

But Richard LeFrancis, a retired Air Force colonel, applauded the proposal. Gardening is the No. 1 hobby in America, he said.

The botanical gardens offer something to elderly and disabled people who can’t use who cannot use Tubbs Hill, he said. It will bring loads of money to Coeur d’Alene and revive a faltering downtown, LeFrancis said.

“‘You are looking a gift horse in the mouth … complaining about gold fillings and asking for platinum,” he added. His remarks drew a smattering of boos.

Katie Brodie, representing Idaho Forest Industries, also endorsed the proposal. “In the past, I’ve been terribly proud of the things Mr. Hagadone has done for the community,” Brodie said. “I’m delighted Duane is willing to help the community.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition

The Idaho Spokesman-Review wants to hear your views on the proposed Hagadone Public Library and Botanical Gardens. Call Cityline from a Touch-Tone phone at 765-8811. Punch in category 9895. Cityline is a free service to local residents. You can also write us at 608 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814; or send us a fax at (208) 765-7149.

This sidebar appeared with the story: OBSTACLES TO LIBRARY PROPOSAL Coeur d’Alene residents are raising the following issues in conjunction with the proposal to build a library and botanical gardens at McEuen Field and move the playing fields there to north Coeur d’Alene. Whether there will be an alternative to the Third Street boat ramp, which is proposed to be closed in conjunction with the project. It is one of the two busiest public boat ramps in Idaho. Loss of the largest neighborhood park in south Coeur d’Alene. Forcing children in south Coeur d’Alene, who have no transportation alternatives, to give up summer sports or make a long and potentially dangerous bicycle ride to Ramsey Field for softball and baseball games. Loss of picnic and playground facilities in south Coeur d’Alene. Proposals to light Ramsey Field, to accommodate softball games now played at McEuen Field, could meet stiff resistance from owners of nearby homes. Moving the library from Harrison Avenue to a potentially less accessible location. Whether the library can raise $2.7 million in private funds for the project. Whether proposed alternative recreational facilities - Ramsey Field, high school fields, etc. - have the capability to absorb displaced softball and baseball players.

Cut in Spokane edition

The Idaho Spokesman-Review wants to hear your views on the proposed Hagadone Public Library and Botanical Gardens. Call Cityline from a Touch-Tone phone at 765-8811. Punch in category 9895. Cityline is a free service to local residents. You can also write us at 608 Northwest Boulevard, Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814; or send us a fax at (208) 765-7149.

This sidebar appeared with the story: OBSTACLES TO LIBRARY PROPOSAL Coeur d’Alene residents are raising the following issues in conjunction with the proposal to build a library and botanical gardens at McEuen Field and move the playing fields there to north Coeur d’Alene. Whether there will be an alternative to the Third Street boat ramp, which is proposed to be closed in conjunction with the project. It is one of the two busiest public boat ramps in Idaho. Loss of the largest neighborhood park in south Coeur d’Alene. Forcing children in south Coeur d’Alene, who have no transportation alternatives, to give up summer sports or make a long and potentially dangerous bicycle ride to Ramsey Field for softball and baseball games. Loss of picnic and playground facilities in south Coeur d’Alene. Proposals to light Ramsey Field, to accommodate softball games now played at McEuen Field, could meet stiff resistance from owners of nearby homes. Moving the library from Harrison Avenue to a potentially less accessible location. Whether the library can raise $2.7 million in private funds for the project. Whether proposed alternative recreational facilities - Ramsey Field, high school fields, etc. - have the capability to absorb displaced softball and baseball players.



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