Backers of a library and botanical garden aren’t sure what direction they will take after dozens of citizens thrashed the proposal at a public hearing Tuesday.
“Is it dead at that location? I don’t know. We haven’t made that decision yet,” said Bob Farr, a local physician and chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Library Board. “Once everybody has a chance to take that into full consideration, I’m sure we will make a recommendation.”
Some 300 Lake City residents turned out for a city Parks and Recreation Commission forum at North Idaho College. With few exceptions, most of those who spoke at the gathering adamantly oppose converting McEuen Field from softball, baseball, picnics and playgrounds into the Hagadone Memorial Library and Botanical Garden.
None were assuaged by the offer to replace the recreational facilities elsewhere in Coeur d’Alene. Many were suspicious of businessman Duane Hagadone’s offer to donate $2 million toward a $6 million library and botanical gardens complex on the condition it be located at McEuen.
Farr said he wasn’t surprised by the strength of the turnout at the Tuesday hearing. The tone sometimes made him uncomfortable.
“I thought it was unfortunate that there were so many personal attacks on Mr. Hagadone,” he said.
Simultaneously, Farr liked what he heard about a community library in general. “I thought it was commendable that even through they had strong opposition to the present proposal, they still voice strong support for a new library and the role of the library in the community,” Farr said.
Some of the people testifying suggested the library expand the current building on Harrison Avenue instead of moving to a new site. That may be more difficult than it appears, Farr said.
The library would have to purchase four lots to the east of the current building and 12 lots to the north. The social impact of displacing that many families and the cost of demolition are high - perhaps too high, he said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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