Proposal pushes for Blackwell Island annexation

In a surprise gesture Tuesday, Spokane developer John Stone offered to pay $100,000 and donate a marina slip for an emergency services boat – all as enticement for Coeur d’Alene to approve the seemingly stalled Blackwell Island annexation.

Stone, who owns the former Foss Maritime property and marina just west of the Blackwell Island channel, didn’t discuss the idea with Blackwell Island owner Duane Hagadone before he made the pitch to the Coeur d’Alene City Council.

“It’s just the right answer,” Stone said. “I’m looking out for my own economic benefit.”

Hagadone and his representatives didn’t attend the meeting, and attempts to reach them Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

The council agreed to postpone a vote until Aug. 1 so Hagadone officials and city attorneys can review the new proposal.

The city can’t include Stone’s marina in the city limits until it finalizes the annexation of Hagadone’s 78-acre Blackwell Island property. By law, the city can take only contiguous pieces of land. The council voted in July 2005 to annex Blackwell Island, but that doesn’t become final until the annexation agreement is approved.

The Hagadone annexation agreement, which outlines fees and other conditions, has been mired in negotiations for nearly a year. Last month the council postponed it again until details about the emergency services boat slip and the width of a pedestrian/bike path were resolved.

Stone said he would pay $100,000 in additional annexation fees for the former Foss property. He also would provide a slip, likely worth about $100,000, for a city-owned emergency services boat so Hagadone wouldn’t have to include that in his offer.

Because the city had to annex Hagadone’s land first, Stone said, Hagadone ended up paying the majority of costs, including a backup water system and a study showing the future need for city sewers south of the Spokane River. Hagadone also would have to pay for construction of the sewer lines and lift station needed to serve the marina and business park developments.

Stone said he’s benefiting from Hagadone’s project and that it’s fair for him to share the costs. He said his offer should help “close the gap” between Hagadone and the city.

Stone added that tourism is fundamental to Coeur d’Alene’s economy now that logging and mining jobs have diminished, and Hagadone’s plan to clean up the dilapidated marina is an “ideal concept,” just like The Coeur d’Alene Resort, The Club at Black Rock and Stone’s own Riverstone development off Northwest Boulevard.

“It’s in the best interest of North Idaho to support this,” Stone said.

Yet Stone’s proposal does nothing to address the controversy over the width of the proposed public bike and pedestrian path that would loop from Marina Drive along the waterfront.

In the latest revision, the contract calls for an 8-foot-wide pedestrian-only trail along the waterfront. The remainder of the loop would be 10 feet wide and allow bicycles. Some council members prefer a 10-foot width, which is a new standard the city recommends. The city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee recommended a 12-foot width while Hagadone wants an 8-foot path that allows only pedestrians, not bicyclists.

To expand the marina and allow for larger boats, Hagadone is asking for state and federal permits to dredge the channel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants additional tests to determine how much of the soil is contaminated with heavy metals.

The property includes a portion of the man-made island and some of the water that stretches into the Spokane River and Blackwell Island channel.

Some people are worried that the dredging would stir up heavy metals that are in the soil and potentially harm water quality, fish and wildlife.

Hagadone also wants to develop a “village-style” business park that would include condos, shops and offices.

In 2005, the city Planning Commission approved a limited design planned unit development, which will allow Hagadone to build at least four buildings on the site of various heights up to 110 feet – about eight stories.

The limited design PUD is a planning tool that lets the city know where Hagadone would construct the buildings without knowing the architectural specifics.

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