One of south Coeur d’Alene’s most popular public recreational areas - McEuen Field - could become home to the Hagadone Public Library and Botanical Gardens.
That’s the latest proposal from Lake City businessman Duane Hagadone and the Coeur d’Alene Library Foundation. The facilities would be located just east of Hagadone’s Coeur d’Alene Resort complex.
The project would cost roughly $5.7 million, and Hagadone would put up a minimum of $2 million, Jon Hippler, library foundation president, said Thursday.
The balance of the money would come from a variety of non-public sources, including some $2.7 million raised by the library foundation. Hippler admitted that would be quite a stretch for private fund raising in a city the size of Coeur d’Alene.
Hagadone apparently approached the foundation last summer after the City Council had panned the idea of building a library at Person Field on 15th Street.
Hagadone would accomplish his dual goals of naming something significant after his parents and giving something back to the community, Hippler said.
The cost estimates are tentative, Hippler emphasized during his presentation to the Coeur d’Alene Parks and Recreation Commission. The nearly $6 million cost includes building the botanical gardens and relocating baseball and softball fields, tennis and basketball courts, and playgrounds.
The estimate doesn’t include money to relocate the Parks and Recreation Department, which is housed in a building that would be displaced by the new library and gardens. The project also calls for the eventual elimination of the Third Street boat ramp, one of the busiest public lake accesses in the state.
A trust fund would be used to cover the long-term care for the gardens “that will rival the best of its kind in the Pacific Northwest,” Hippler said.
That cost is about double what the library foundation estimated last summer when it wanted to build its 30,000-square-foot facility at Person Field. In both cases, the library figures on getting $600,000 from the sale of its Harrison Avenue building to put toward a new operation.
Nearly everyone acknowledged that reaction to moving the play fields alone “will be negative,” said Bob Farr, president of the library board of trustees.
“Is this going to be a difficult issue? Probably,” said Doug Eastwood, city parks and recreation director. “Is it impossible? No.”
Eastwood listed several possibilities for dealing with the need for alternate playing fields, including lighting the Ramsey Road fields, and improving the playing fields at Sunset Park, Canfield Park and Person Field. The tennis courts already are supposed to be replaced.
Those could be moved south of City Hall, next to Tubbs Hill. These are only ideas to open the dialogue, not mandates, Eastwood said.
Sandy Bloom, of the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association, spoke enthusiastically about how the library project would help revive the downtown. The mere rumor has prompted an investor to inquire about a place for a 500-seat theater, she said.
Scott Reed, a local attorney and a member of the library board, gave what he characterized as unusual support for a Hagadone project. He likes it because it’s a way for Hagadone to give something great back to the community.
Parks Commission member Jeanne Bemis raised the most questions. She asked how equitable it is to move all of the people who use the playing fields out of the south part of town.
Bemis also is concerned that fencing around the gardens will restrict access to Tubbs Hill and other facilities.
Finally, she asked whether this is the only alternative. “It sounds like this project is dependent on one developer,” she said.
But if the gardens and relocating the playing fields is eliminated, the cost falls well within what the foundation already is planning to raise, Bemis said.
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