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Huckleberries: Remembering the battle of McEuen Park

Former Coeur d’Alene mayor Sandi Bloem.
Former Coeur d’Alene mayor Sandi Bloem.
By Dave Oliveria For The Spokesman-Review

Former Coeur d’Alene mayor Sandi Bloem wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

The “it” being her successful push for a complete makeover of McEuen Park earlier this decade, a crusade that almost landed her in a recall election. Bloem told Huckleberries this week: “I would do it again in a heartbeat. (McEuen Park) is the most incredible space the city owns.”

So why are we talking about Coeur d’Alene’s crown jewel of its vast park system this morning? Four years ago today, on Memorial Day weekend 2014, Bloem, her successor, Steve Widmyer, and town dignitaries dedicated the new and improved McEuen Park for public use.

Huckleberries was there. Almost all wore smiles.

Huckleberries was also there in spring 2012 when Bloem and council members Deanna Goodlander, Woody McEvers and Mike Kennedy were targeted for recall as a result of their constant 4-3 majority votes to push ahead with the makeover sans public vote.

Mary Souza, now a state senator from Coeur d’Alene, and then-legislator Kathy Sims failed by only about 100 or so signatures on each petition from triggering a recall effort against all four.

The recall effort split the town.

Bloem, the only Coeur d’Alene mayor to serve three four-year terms, and her family were subject to blistering, baseless criticism. She was thinking of the toll on her family when she decided not to run for a fourth term.

Not one to waste energy on grudges, she enjoys driving by McEuen Park daily and seeing the variety and number of people using the multipurpose greenspace.

Many who use McEuen Park today don’t know the debt of gratitude they owe Bloem and the three council members. Or how close their myopic detractors came to bah-humbugging the project.

Clueless in CdA

Many of you know that Coeur d’Alene dedicated the new K27 Forever Memorial water feature at McEuen Park on May 15. But do you know that not all treat the monument memorializing the late police Sgt. Greg Moore with respect? On an evening walk, three days before the dedication, Shannon Forbes of Coeur d’Alene spied two blondes in bikinis splashing in the water while their equally clueless boy toys snapped photos. The boorish dimbos crawled over a barrier that instructed them to stay out of the water out of respect to the memory of the fallen officer, his family, and other officers. Jerks.

Huckleberries

Poet’s Corner: “They’re dance artists and not strippers/Though they may unzip their zippers,/So please ignore each unclothed part/Cause what you’re looking at is art” – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue, reacting in April 2003 to The Torch bikini bar that had come and now is gone from downtown Coeur d’Alene … Conversation looping in Facebook Friend Bruce Bodden’s head as he trailed a slow poke to a Spokane concert recently: “How slow can you drive? Does your car have arthritis?” Bruce cracked himself up … David Bond of the Wallace Street Journal found the silver lining in that Idaho Republican Primary Without End, Amen: “No junk mail since (Election Day) Tuesday” … In his Kellogg Police Department Roll Call report, Sgt. Paul Twidt tells of being dispatched to deal with a marmot stuck in an engine compartment of a vehicle. Writes Sgt. Twidt: “I wasn’t going to stick my hand in there to try to get it out.” And: (I) wished the marmot luck on trying to find his way out of that one” … An old-timer in shorts balked when an election worker at Precinct 52 (Coeur d’Alene Assembly of God) offered him an “I Voted” sticker on Election Day. “I’d rather have one of those cookies that you used to give out here.” Election Worker: “But you can wear this on the outside.” Codger: “I’d rather eat a cookie and wear it on the inside.”

Parting shot

Nick Smoot, the wunderkind who transformed the old Elks Building into the Innovation Den on Coeur d’Alene’s Lakeside Avenue, offered a poll on his Facebook page: “Should we shut down Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene on weekends and evenings in summers for walking and dining in the street?” Of the first 499 votes, 77 percent said Yes. Some commented, including Mayor Steve Widmyer. The mayor touted the eateries and walking opportunities downtown, adding, however, that it was “starved” for activities and entertainment. But closing Sherman Avenue, he cautioned, could create unintended problems. Could this be the beginning of something new? Something big? Inquiring minds want to know.

You can contact D.F. Oliveria at dfo.northidaho@gmail.com.