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Proposed Hagadone Project Rocks Coeur D’Alene

Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Revi

Announcement of the proposed Hagadone Public Library and Botanical Gardens rocked Coeur d’Alene last week. Now it’s the talk of the town - positively and negatively.

Only a few people were aware of the proposal by the city’s leading businessman to donate $2 million for a 30,000-square-foot library and a multi-acre botanical garden in what now is McEuen Field in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

The project, which would displace or eliminate several recreational facilities, would cost a total of $6 million.

The rest of the money apparently would come from $350,000 allocated by the city for parklands, $700,000 from assets of the existing library and $2.7 million from a library foundation fund-raising drive.

Some groups, including many downtown business people, consider the plan a much better use of lakeside property. They and Hagadone view the recreational facilities as a poor use of select property that draws few tourists, who downtown merchants depend upon.

The skeptics, however, claim that:

The project would become an amenity to The Coeur d’Alene Resort, which Hagadone owns.

Hagadone wants the project as a way to get rid of the boat ramp and ballfields, which draw visitors who seldom use the hotel. The hotel already bolted its eastern door to make the restrooms inaccessible to the park.

The ballparks, tennis courts, playgrounds and boat ramp are the spirit of Coeur d’Alene that helps convince people to live here. Hagadone said only 5 percent of the population uses McEuen Field. City officials said it’s about 10 percent. Neither takes into account the thousands of spectators at the ballgames.

A more accessible Third Street entry to Tubbs Hill already is being planned.

One playground would be moved, the other eliminated. Eight tennis courts would become one or two.

The central location of the current library is handy. It has ample parking, and it owns neighboring properties, which would allow for needed expansion.

Like other major proposals that will affect the entire city, such as the shoreline and hydroplane racing issues, this project should be put before the voters.

The first public forum on the proposal will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Bonner Room of the Student Union Building at North Idaho College. It had been scheduled for The Spokesman-Review Building but was moved to the larger facility because of growing public interest.

Some other tidbits:

Hundreds of North Idaho residents who were extras and fans in the filming of the movie “Dante’s Peak” will catch the debut this weekend. Post Falls Cinema 6 is selling advance tickets and adding an early showing at 12:45 p.m. Friday. Coeur d’Alene Cinema is showing it in two theaters, with the first curtain at 5 p.m. It also will be shown in Sandpoint and Kellogg.

Watch for the Rosdahls’ gray Rabbit parked in front of the post office during the panic-in-the-streets scene. I’m one of many extras nearly being run down by actor Pierce Brosnan as a building collapses at an intersection. And yeah, I got his autograph.

Last week’s announcement that Casa Maria Restaurant would move into the downtown Coeur d’Alene space that was McDonald’s may have been premature. Some utility hassles and extra costs may complicate the move.

The city of Coeur d’Alene has three-plus acres out near the new post office on Kathleen Avenue. Watch for a possible move of the police station in a few years.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Review

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