The Coeur d’Alene City Council voted Tuesday night in favor of changes in front of the Coeur d’Alene Resort, including cutting down street trees as a way to improve views of Lake Coeur d’Alene.
The council voted 6-0 to approve Hagadone Hospitality Co.’s plans for about 2 acres of open space the resort must maintain for public use at its entrance.
A Hagadone representative made it clear to the council that any attempt to alter those plans to spare the red maple trees would kill the deal, which involves a $1 million investment by the company and includes turning Front Avenue into a pedestrian plaza between Second and Third streets.
“Removal of the trees is a paramount part of our project if we are to be involved,” said John Barlow, a consultant to Hagadone. “That is the position of our company and our chairman.”
The maples growing along Sherman Avenue and Second Street are on public property but may be removed by the resort with the city’s permission. The city’s urban forestry committee also signed off on taking out the trees and not replacing them.
Katie Kosanke, the city’s urban forester, said the trees are not well developed because the resort has improperly pruned them for years, a practice the city has allowed to continue.
Resident Sid Smith appealed the city planning commission’s earlier approval of the plan. He disputed the resort’s claim that the trees block views of the lake.
“I think that’s a pretty lame excuse for taking the trees out,” Smith said. “They provide a lot of benefits to the community and the environment.”
Barlow said views of the lake are a bigger priority. “That’s why you buy lakefront property,” he said.
Councilman Woody McEvers said the project needs to move forward to provide a better pedestrian and bicycle link between City Park and McEuen Park, which will reopen this spring after a major makeover. “I don’t think we should let this thing go sideways for 12 trees,” McEvers said.