Tugboats will continue to haul logs on Lake Coeur d’Alene even though the fleet’s new owner is asking Coeur d’Alene to include the former Foss Maritime property and marina in the city limits.
Spokane developer John Stone said he wants to reconstruct and update the 120 docks in the commercial marina and use the city’s water and sewer services. Other than that, he said, future plans for the property are uncertain.
The property is next to Duane Hagadone’s Blackwell Island marina, which the city also is considering for annexation. Stone said Coeur d’Alene must annex Blackwell Island before considering his property because the city can only take contiguous pieces of land.
The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission is having a public hearing on Hagadone’s proposal June 14. The hearing for Stone’s project is June 28.
Hagadone wants to overhaul the dilapidated Blackwell Island marina and yacht club into an upscale operation with slips for larger boats and a sales showroom. The plans also call for condos, offices, shops and a public boardwalk on the east side of his 78 acres along the Spokane River.
Stone said his marina won’t be nearly as high-end and won’t allow for boats larger than about 26 feet. He said it’s possible that people living in his Riverstone development just down the Spokane River might want to have slips at the marina.
Stone is currently transforming the former W-I Forest Products mill site near Northwest Boulevard and Interstate 90 into housing, offices and shops in the waterfront development.
The 3.6-acre tug and marina property “certainly could be converted into some kind of residential but it’s a fairly small piece,” Stone said. “The highest and best use (of the property) is the marina.”
For now, Stone will continue to operate the 12 tugboats that supply lumber to Stimson Lumber Co., which owns the two remaining mills. He has a working agreement with Stimson to continue the log hauling service that will last at least for the next five to seven years.
Yet the mills might relocate to Hauser by 2007, ending the need for tugboats to move logs on the river. In March, developer Marshall Chesrown brokered a deal to move the two Stimson mills and their 200 employees to Hauser. The deal would open up the shoreline for a much-anticipated higher education corridor that would connect to North Idaho College.
Stone bought the Seattle-based Foss Maritime fleet in November and recently expanded the business to include dock building services.
The tug business, started in 1918 by Al Lafferty and later purchased by Foss, was built around log hauls. It once served four mills on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River.
Hagadone said in an interview Tuesday that he has “great admiration” for Stone’s development accomplishments and that he likes having him as a neighbor. He said it’s possible that the two could work together to get their annexations approved by the city, but didn’t provide any specifics.
Stone said that he supports Hagadone’s proposal to dredge the Blackwell Island channel to allow for larger boats even though it’s not a popular idea with environmentalists who worry the dredging could harm water quality and damage the aquifer.
Hagadone has requested dredging permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Idaho Department of Lands.
Stone said that Blackwell Island is man-made and that the channel was originally created by dredging. 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 became the Spokane River.
The city at one time also used the island for a landfill.
“I’ve read through the engineering studies and I think it’s a very responsible and reasonable approach,” Stone said. “It will really help the economy here too.”
For more information on the Planning Commission public hearings, call 769-2300.
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