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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Coeur d’Alene hydro race has neighbors anxious

“I’m one of the few people that get in this lake every day,” Evalyn Adams said as she swam in Lake Coeur d’Alene at Silver Beach. She has property adjacent to the site of the Diamond Cup hydroplane races that will take place on Labor Day weekend. (Kathy Plonka)
“I’m one of the few people that get in this lake every day,” Evalyn Adams said as she swam in Lake Coeur d’Alene at Silver Beach. She has property adjacent to the site of the Diamond Cup hydroplane races that will take place on Labor Day weekend. (Kathy Plonka)

Frank Addeman grew up with the Diamond Cup in the late 1950s and early ’60s and has good memories of the boats streaking across Lake Coeur d’Alene.

“When I was a kid I used to collect all the (commemorative) buttons,” he said. “I loved the hydroplane races and I was sad when they had to leave.”

With the races about to return after a 45-year lull, Addeman is among a few residents who will have the best views of the turbine-powered hulls reaching speeds of 200 mph about 450 feet from the shoreline.

His house sits on the bluff above Silver Beach, and like many of his neighbors, Addeman can watch the Labor Day weekend heats from his deck above or his dock below.

But he also has had some concerns – as have others who live above East Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive just outside city limits – about traffic flow, crowd control, trespassing and liability insurance. Some residents also were surprised last week to see trees along the shoreline being trimmed to improve spectator viewing of the race course.

Addeman, a part-time resident and 1962 graduate of Coeur d’Alene High School, said he’s neutral on the races but wants to be sure he still can entertain guests over the holiday weekend.

“That’s the big weekend,” he said. “You got a lot of friends over and you want to go boating.”

He and other residents met with race organizers last week to pose questions about how the three-day event, with expected daily crowds of more than 10,000, will affect them.

Addeman said he was relieved to learn his guests will be free to use the narrow South Silver Beach Road to reach his house; he still will be able to use his dock and take his boat out between heats; and security will be posted to keep the crowds off the two dozen private docks between Silver Beach Marina and Tony’s on the Lake restaurant.

“After going to the meeting I felt they had it fairly well organized,” he said. “There’s a learning curve here; this is the first time for them.”

Down the street, Evalyn Adams recalls watching and volunteering for the old Diamond Cup races, which ended in 1968 after 10 seasons. A former Kootenai County commissioner, Adams said she has mixed feelings about hydroplane racing resuming below her house. One worry she has is congestion on Silver Beach Road, which is barely wide enough for two cars to pass.

“If we got a lot of strange cars and people wanting to drive up there, because there’s some fantastic viewing areas up there, it would really be extremely hazardous for emergency situations,” she said.

Adams said race organizers seem to be on top of that and other potential problems. She doesn’t have a dock, but she frequently swims and canoes in the lake.

“It’s a beautiful area. We don’t want to see it spoiled,” she said. “Yet, this could be a very good event for Coeur d’Alene and for our area. … It’s going to be an adventure; I hope it’s a good one.”

As adjacent homeowners began raising more questions about the races in recent weeks, organizers met with them for two hours last Wednesday night to quell rumors and allay concerns.

“The better the lines of communications with the people out there … the better the event management that we can provide,” Diamond Cup President Doug Miller said.

“We were waiting until after the Fourth of July to meet with them and go through what the program was going to be,” Miller said.

The group also waited until after the other two hydroplane races in the region – the Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities and Seafair in Seattle – to fine-tune its plans for the Coeur d’Alene races, he said.

A crowd management service has been hired to keep spectators in designated areas, and fencing will be erected to keep people away from the water, Miller said. In addition, dock owners are listed on the liability insurance purchased for the event, he said.

Idaho Parks and Recreation contracted with an arborist last week to prune some lower branches from 67-year-old Siberian elm trees along Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive to improve views of the lake from the Centennial Trail and the bleachers that will be set up along the trail for race fans.

The work was requested by the Diamond Cup organization, which will foot the $9,000 to $10,000 bill. Some of the trees are on private land and some are on state-owned land, including spots where residents have riparian rights to access the water and keep docks. In all cases, property owners were consulted on the pruning before the work was done, said Randall Butt with state parks.

Some poplars and a few Russian olive trees also were removed from two state-owned pullouts along the road, which will be used to swing the race boats in and out of the water.

Jennifer Newton said she and her family plan to take in the hydroplane action from their dock.

“We have a lot of kids in our family who have never experienced the races,” Newton said. “They’re definitely looking forward to that excitement.”

As for keeping intruders from descending the stairs to the dock – primarily a liability concern for property owners – it’s something they deal with every year.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of being that easily accessible,” she said, noting the proximity to the Centennial Trail.

Newton said resurrecting the Diamond Cup will be good for the local economy, including her family’s business. Her father owns Valentino’s Pizza and will have a food booth that weekend near the family dock.

“We thrive on tourist income, even though some of the locals might not like it,” she said. “Bringing in events like this to our community is part of who we are.”

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