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Editorial: Changes near resort will add to Coeur d’Alene’s vitality

The city of Coeur d’Alene provides visual evidence that “progress” and “conservative” are not mutually exclusive. If you doubt it, take the Northwest Boulevard exit off of Interstate 90 and head south. Or better yet, pedal a bike along the Centennial Trail.

Soon you’ll arrive at the modern Riverstone development, with shops, restaurants, offices, movie theaters, apartments, condominiums and a park. Further south, you’ll enter the education corridor, with a campus that serves North Idaho College, the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College. Both areas occupy an area along the Spokane River that used to service the timber trade.

From there, you’ll transition into the resort section of town, which is also getting a major facelift. Just east of the Coeur d’Alene Resort is construction for the McEuen Park upgrade, which expands recreational choices and places the former eyesore of a parking lot underground. Next to McEuen is an impressive new library.

A decade ago, it was all so different in this conservative town. Some residents wished it had never changed. But examples abound of communities that cling too tightly to the past, and, for the most part, it isn’t a pretty picture.

The latest change to the Lake City involves a jumbled area between City Park and McEuen Park. Some of it is city property; some belongs to the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Both parties want to alter the landscape to reflect the rest of the changes on the resort’s boundaries. On Tuesday night, the city’s Planning Commission approved some sensible alterations.

Front Avenue, that odd street that bisects the resort and its shopping mall, will be closed to cars between Second and Third streets. This should improve the flow of bike and pedestrian traffic between City Park and McEuen Field. Along with the extra crowds that McEuen Field is expected to draw, the resort may add 200 more rooms. Hagadone Hospitality Co. is offering $750,000 to build this pedestrian plaza.

One controversial aspect of this plan is the rerouting of Centennial Trail, which cuts an 8-foot wide path across resort grounds. It would be moved near Sherman Avenue and combined with a sidewalk for a 14-foot-wide trail. Some people were hoping for a wider path, but city engineers want the narrower version to calm trail traffic in a congested area.

Also, the small circular parking lot on the resort grounds would be eliminated and turned into a grassy area. It was originally built for a planned restaurant that never materialized. Some trees would also be cleared out to provide better lake views.

Altogether, the transformation should improve traffic flow and connect activities on both sides of the resort.

Yes, there will always be those who are troubled by change, including this one. But adaptation has been the key to the city’s vitality.


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