February 5, 2010 in City

Field of options

Coeur d’Alene mayor, city parks director say it’s time to reopen public discussion of possible changes for multifaceted outdoor space
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photo

Heather and Nate Thompson, along with their children, Ethan and Evan, take a hike around McEuen Field on Tuesday. The city of Coeur d’Alene wants to gather opinions from the general public as to how the field should look in the future.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

The city of Coeur d’Alene is planning once again to consider changes to one of its most beloved treasures – McEuen Field.

The downtown playfield runs from the Coeur d’Alene Resort east to City Hall. It is a gateway to Tubbs Hill. It provides boat launch access, along with parking. It’s home to the American Legion baseball field. It fronts the city’s new library and provides waterfront access.

Due to the wide array of users, and the field’s location in the middle of downtown, the numerous plans hatched to tinker with McEuen Field over the years have been met with passionate community response.

For that reason, Mayor Sandi Bloem is asking the public not to fear the process.

“We really want to hear what the public wants to do,” Bloem said. “Cities are only as great as the amount of quality space they give to the public. That is something we all pay very close attention to, that our public spaces are special and bring people together and build community.”

Conceptual plans for McEuen in past years have suggested transforming the large public parking lot into a grassy area, moving boat-trailer parking and adding a public amphitheater, and reconfiguring the baseball and softball fields to increase year-round public use.

However, Doug Eastwood, the city parks director, said changes have occurred since the last conceptual plan was completed. He cited the city library, built at the edge of McEuen, and the residential condominiums constructed across the street.

“We need a good transition between the library and the park,” Eastwood said. “We have a lot of new residents immediately across the street looking down on lighted basketball courts. They might have a few things to say. We want to be good neighbors. It’s time to have everybody take another look.”

More important than the conceptual plans, Bloem said, are several guiding principles the council adopted in the past. One of them dictated that no feature of the park be removed unless an equal or better replacement could be found. Bloem said that applies firmly to the American Legion baseball field, which at least one of the plans recommends moving.

“We have no place, no desire and no intention of moving the Legion baseball field,” Bloem said. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be some rearrangements of things.”

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