The public likely won’t be asked to vote on a plan to remake a popular park in downtown Coeur d’Alene, following rejection of the idea Tuesday by a committee that forwards agenda items to the City Council.
The city’s General Services Committee – councilmen Mike Kennedy, Ron Edinger and John Bruning – decided against sending the idea to the full council for consideration. Edinger, who has been an outspoken opponent of key components of the McEuen Field plan, made a motion to forward the public vote idea to the council, but it died for lack of a second.
“This is gonna be a big issue. It’s going to be a change for downtown Coeur d’Alene,” Edinger said. “Myself, I say let the public vote.”
But Bruning and Kennedy disagreed. Bruning, a member of the 21-person steering committee that created the plan with help from a professional design team, said the committee has listened to the public and is still tweaking the plan based on that input. He said it’s the job of elected officials to weigh public input and make the best decisions possible.
Kennedy agreed, saying he doesn’t support every aspect of the plan, but that he “wasn’t elected to dodge the tough issues.” He said if the city can’t find “equal or better” replacement sites for park features slated for removal – such as the Third Street boat launch and ball fields – he won’t vote for the plan.
In addition to finding different sites for the boat launch and ball fields, the plan proposes adding a wheelchair-accessible trail to Tubbs Hill, doubling the amount of parking and putting most of it underground, and adding features ranging from basketball, tennis and pickleball courts to a sledding hill, fountain and a large children’s play structure.
About 60 people attended the meeting and of those who signed in, 26 opposed the public vote idea and 14 favored it. Speakers raised issues about everything from the legality of a public vote to the potential cost of the project to the features of the plan they don’t like. Some said a public vote would be premature because the plan is conceptual.