Three northern Idaho residents have donated 50 acres to the city of Coeur d’Alene to preserve as a waterfront walking area along Fernan Lake.
Jim Elder, Pat Acuff and Doug Potter, of Fernan Lake, last week deeded the land that includes 1,000 feet of waterfront.
“We wanted to preserve it for the public,” Elder told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “This was the best way to make sure it remained a huge asset for the community forever.”
“I wouldn’t call it a shock,” said Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem, who worked with the three on donating the land. “I might call it a surprise but I know the generosity of this community and these three families. We have a very strong culture of giving here.”
City officials said they are starting to look at ways to make the land accessible to the public and where to build possible trails.
“Getting land on a lake as pretty as Fernan doesn’t come about that often,” said Doug Eastwood, parks director. “We feel very fortunate to even have this opportunity.”
The land is inside Coeur d’Alene’s city boundary and rises from a shore favored by anglers.
“It would definitely take away from the beauty if there were houses up there,” said Bob Knauber, fishing near the hill last week. “I’d still fish there if the fishing was good, but it wouldn’t be as nice.”
The land has residential zoning and a developer wanted to build as many as 160 houses there a few years ago, but that plan stalled. Elder, Acuff and Potter then bought the land, though they kept five acres at the top of the hill for a possible subdivision.
Eastwood said other land donated to the city over the years has also been turned into parks, including 16 acres on the north side of Fernan Hill, and 25 acres on the west side of Canfield Mountain donated by Quest Development.