Dredging the Blackwell Island channel will improve the environment by removing heavy metals and decreasing erosion, Hagadone Corp. officials told a state examiner Thursday night.
“Nobody has more to lose than I do if this project develops a problem,” businessman Duane Hagadone said.
Hagadone said he personally attended the Idaho Department of Lands public hearing to assure people that his plan to expand and improve the existing marina will “enhance the quality of life for everyone in the community.”
Not everyone was convinced.
Some speakers called for an independent review of potential contamination to Lake Coeur d’Alene, the Spokane River and the underground aquifer, in addition to impacts on fish and wildlife.
“It will adversely impact the water quality and put the public at risk of injury, and endanger a public resource,” said a spokesman for Idaho Rivers United, a nonprofit conservation group.
Marina Yacht Club LLC, owned by Hagadone, is asking the Lands Department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to dredge the channel on the west side of the island to allow for larger boats.
The dredging would make the channel about 50 percent wider and at least 8 feet deep. The expansion would allow for about 530 boat slips, 29 more than are currently at the marina on the man-made island that is bisected by U.S. Highway 95. The private marina would also have 119 slips for personal watercraft in addition to a sales dock.
The Lands Department has 30 days to make a decision on the permit request.
Hagadone’s consultants said most of the excavation would occur on dry land, making it easier to ensure that heavy metals found in the soils and sediment won’t be released into the water. Silt fences and constant monitoring would occur when dredging is done in wet areas of the channel. Hagadone wants to start work this fall.
Zinc is the only metal Hagadone consultants think might be released into the water, and they said that already happens when boats churn up the mud in the shallow channel.
The plan calls for extending the channel to the north. That means carving out dry land up to 25 feet deep in spots.
The excavated sand, silt and gravel – up to 220,500 cubic yards – would be used to fill in the east side of Blackwell Island, which was once a city landfill.
Workers would then cap the area with clean sand and gravel. Hagadone eventually plans to turn the area into a business park with condominiums, offices and shops.
“Removing sediment is really an improvement to the environment,” consulting engineer Jim Coleman said. “This takes them out of contact with plants and animals.”
The Kootenai Environmental Alliance requested the hearing and paid the $75 fee to notify the public.
Supporters, such as car dealer Tom Addis, pointed to Hagadone’s transformation of the former Potlatch mill site into the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course as proof the company would do quality work.
Hagadone officials said improvements to the dilapidated marina would enhance the southern entrance to Coeur d’Alene and improve the economy.
Hagadone owns three marinas on the north end of the lake and in February had 550 people on a waiting list for a boat slip.