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CdA planning commission OKs modifications at resort

Hagadone Hospitality Co. has the go-ahead to remove trees, realign the Centennial Trail and make other changes in front of the Coeur d’Alene Resort early next year.

The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission voted Tuesday night to approve the company’s proposal to modify the planned unit development for the lakefront resort, which includes about 2 acres of open space available for public use.

The changes will allow for better flow of bicycle and pedestrian traffic through the area and will improve views of the lake from downtown, company representatives said.

The work also complements city plans to close Front Avenue to vehicles between Second and Third streets, turning it into a pedestrian plaza, and make Second a one-way street from the resort to Sherman Avenue to serve as the exit for resort traffic. Hagadone has offered to pay the bulk of the cost to redevelop that short section of Front, which will be open to bikes and foot traffic as well as resort-related deliveries and buses.

Planning commissioners Tuesday questioned the plans to remove the trees and move the Centennial Trail, as well as the width of the trail past the resort.

Red maple trees along Sherman Avenue and Second Street, planted and maintained by the resort, now obscure views and vistas that were meant to be preserved in front of the resort, said John Barlow, a consultant to Hagadone Corp. and the former president of Hagadone Real Estate Holding Co.

“You can’t see the Hagadone building or any of the lake” from certain vantage points because of those street trees, Barlow said.

Replacement trees will not be planted, he added.

Two much taller conifers next to the clock tower near Independence Point also may be removed by the city to allow for a wider path at that point, which officials described as a bottleneck on the Centennial Trail system.

The trail, which now cuts across the open area, will be moved up along Sherman and Second and will be combined with the sidewalk in a 14-foot-wide path.

The North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation said it would prefer to keep the trail where it is, or at least make the new shared path 16 feet wide to better handle all the bikes and people on foot.

A 14-foot-wide path will be sufficient to handle the traffic and will help slow down cyclists through the busy corridor, City Engineer Gordon Dobler said.

Several members of the planning commission wrestled with the path width but in the end deferred to Dobler’s opinion.

The resort also plans to eliminate a circular parking lot with 10 free parking spaces in front of the Hagadone corporate offices. That lot was put in with the idea it one day would serve a restaurant the resort envisioned building nearby, but the company no longer intends to do that, Barlow said. That area will be converted to green space.

A few residents criticized elements of Hagadone’s plans.

Sidney Smith said the street trees provide shade and reduce carbon emissions. “The trees serve a much more useful purpose than beauty,” Smith said.

Terry Godbout said if the goal is to improve views of the lake, then every tree in the adjacent City Park should come down as well.

Merging the Centennial Trail with the sidewalks along Sherman and Second will create confusion because elsewhere in Coeur d’Alene bikes and skateboards are not allowed to share sidewalks, noted Patti Jester.

Doug Eastwood, the recently retired city parks director, told commissioners he considers the changes important to the flow of people between McEuen Park, which is undergoing a major redevelopment, and the City Park and City Beach area.

“This is better than what we have today,” Eastwood said.

Barlow refused to answer questions after the meeting.

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