Dredging up worries
Local businessman Duane Hagadone wants to dredge the channel west of Blackwell Island, making it wider and deeper, as part of a planned expansion for the Marina Yacht Club.
Marina Yacht Club LLC, which is owned by Hagadone, applied Sept. 9 for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Idaho Department of Lands to make the Blackwell Channel about 50 percent wider and at least 8 feet deep. The proposed dredging area is from Lake Coeur d’Alene downstream, past the marina, to where the channel flows under U.S. Highway 95.
“Hazardous material is one of the biggest questions marks about dredging,” said Gregg Rayner of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Besides lead and other heavy metals that could be in the soil from mining’s legacy in the Silver Valley, there are concerns about potential contamination from the landfill on Blackwell Island and whether dredging could damage the seal over the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, which is the sole drinking water source for 400,000 people.
“We really need a lot more information than what was provided,” said June Bergquist, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s regional water quality compliance officer. “Water quality, of course, will be a big driver in the feasibility of this project.”
DEQ will require further soil testing. Hagadone provided agencies with some soil samples, but the testing is incomplete, Rayner said.
The agencies, including officials from the Idaho Department of Water Resources and Kootenai County, met Wednesday to initially review the proposed project that would remove about 220,550 cubic yards of sand, silt and gravel from the channel. Idaho Fish and Game also is expected to comment on the applications. Public hearings may follow.
Hagadone proposes using the materials to fill the west side of Blackwell Island, raising the elevation so it’s no longer a flood plain.
The applications list Nov. 15 as a starting date for the dredging, when the water levels are down. Parts of the Blackwell Channel often dry up in the winter when the lake level is low. The application proposes using dozers and excavators to do the majority of the dredging, which would take place in phases. Erosion control methods are proposed to keep silt from getting into the lake or river.
Hagadone recently finished filling about five acres along U.S. 95, between the channel and Marina Drive, increasing its elevation up to 6 feet in spots so it will no longer flood in the spring. Hagadone got a site development permit and flood hazard development permit from the city of Coeur d’Alene, but needed no permits from state or federal agencies, Coeur d’Alene Engineer Gordon Dobler said.
He added that Hagadone hasn’t requested any building permits for the site.
Bill Radobenko of ACI Construction and Joe Hassell of Inland Northwest Consultants, who did work on the five-acre site, declined to comment about Hagadone’s plans for the property. Both referred questions to Hagadone Corp. spokesman John Barlow, who couldn’t be reached for comment.
The dredging plans refer to expanding the current marina to about 530 slips, perhaps over four years. The project also would include building riprap and a concert seawall to stabilize the banks.
“They plan to redo the entire marina, building new dock facilities and deepening the area for boats and more year-around use,” Rayner said. “That’s the main crux of the whole thing – to make it a first-class marina.”
Carl Washburn of the Idaho Department of Lands said the marina expansion details are preliminary and don’t have a lot to do with the dredging permit process.
Both Washburn and Rayner declined to provide copies of the permit applications, which include a map, saying they were preliminary and subject to change. They expect public version to be available within a month.
“This is just preliminary,” Washburn said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
Hagadone bought 38 acres of Blackwell Island in January for an undisclosed sum from brothers Robert and Mark Hall.
With more than a mile of shoreline on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River, Hagadone told The Spokesman-Review at the time that he saw the Blackwell Island property as the last large piece of premier commercial property on the north end of the lake. Hagadone said he was unsure about his plans for the island but that the marina business would probably remain as a “natural extension.”
The yacht club includes a Cobalt boat dealership and service center. The marina added more than 300 boat slips and 200 winter storage spaces to the 900 boat slips already owned by Hagadone at both the Boardwalk and Silver Beach marinas. Hagadone also owns The Resort Boat Shop in Huetter, Idaho, which has 300 winter storage spaces and a full-service boat repair shop.
Most of the 38 acres is in unincorporated Kootenai County, with a small portion in the Coeur d’Alene city limits. It’s unknown if Hagadone will ask Coeur d’Alene to annex the property.
Blackwell Island didn’t exist until a lumber company decided a canal was needed as an alternate passage around the boggy area where Lake Coeur d’Alene becomes the Spokane River.
After U.S. 95 and its bridge across the river were built, the “new” island was expanded when it became a city-run landfill, which closed about 30 years ago.
In 1998, the Halls filled about 30 acres of the island, which was a flood plain unsuitable for permanent structures, to build an RV park. Mark Hall retained ownership of the 39-acre RV park, which is adjacent to the yacht club.
Hagadone said in a January interview that he saw no obstacles to developing the rest of the island. He was unsure in January if he would develop apartments, townhouses or condominiums but said it is “wonderful land” and there’s a need for more waterfront apartments around the lake.