The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center finally has solid ground to build on.
The Coeur d’Alene City Council approved Tuesday evening a complicated land-swap agreement that gives the site of a former gravel pit on Ramsey Road to the Salvation Army for the construction of the long-anticipated project.
The Council also agreed to pay $3 million to prepare the 12-acre property, which needs fill material hauled in to support the 109,000-square-foot recreation center.
“We have within our reach a new Kroc center,” City Attorney Mike Gridley told the Council on Tuesday. “We feel like we can see the destination, and it’s real, and we can get there.”
The land, valued at about $1 million, will be transferred to the Salvation Army through an agreement with the Coeur d’Alene Parks Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization.
In exchange, the city will receive about 9 acres of nearly equal value off of Prairie Avenue that is owned by the foundation.
City officials say the arrangement escapes church-state conflicts, an issue that has raised concern with other projects across the country.
The city will give $3 million to the Parks Foundation to prepare the site for construction, a commitment the city made when lobbying for the project, Gridley said.
To fill in the cavernous hole on the Ramsey Road property, the city will truck more than 300,000 cubic yards of dirt from a proposed park site in the Hawk’s Nest subdivision, between Atlas and Huetter roads. In the future, the park site will be transferred to city ownership as part of an annexation agreement.
The city previously planned to use fill dirt from the expansion of the airport in exchange for a chunk of Kootenai County’s landfill and providing sewer services to the county fairgrounds.
The city, however, discovered the fill material was unsuitable for supporting the heavy Kroc Community Center. That material likely will be used to fill in the Hawk’s Nest park, Gridley said.
The city will work with the Idaho Department of Lands and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to refill the Hawk’s Nest site – which is above the aquifer – to ensure proper drainage, Gridley said.
To transport the material to the Ramsey site, the City Council also approved Tuesday an agreement with the Centennial Trail Foundation to use the abandoned former Union Pacific line, which will help avoid running heavy equipment on city streets.
The city will pay about $500 per month to use the Union Pacific pathway. The dirt transfer is expected to take up to three months, starting in March, Gridley said.
“We’ve been able to work on some interesting partnerships with everybody,” Gridley said Tuesday.
The agreements Tuesday bring the community another step closer to the $66 million project.
The two-story building, expected to open in late 2008, will feature a swimming center, fitness facility, jogging track, climbing wall, 400-seat chapel and other amenities.
In recent months, architects have expanded the size of the swimming pool and chapel and added a recording studio for kids and young adults, said Salvation Army Maj. John Chamness, who is directing the local project.
It is expected to employ more than 27 full-time and 120 part-time workers and be used by nearly 700 people a day.
The Kroc Foundation will provide about $30 million for the construction and about $30 million for an endowment to operate it.
The community must raise $6 million by June 1 for construction to begin, Chamness said. The figure is higher than first expected because of mushrooming construction costs and expansions to the project, he said. As of Tuesday, $3.85 million has been donated.
In May, the city was chosen as one of six sites to build and endow centers throughout the Salvation Army’s 13-state Western region.
For nearly two years, civic leaders lobbied for the city to be chosen from among 19 applicants for a piece of more than $1.5 billion from the legacy of McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc.
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