OpenCDA

January 1, 2013

Action Alert–A Bitchin’Park?

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 6:13 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter   -1

Happy New Year!  I’m writing on this holiday to tell you that the CdA City Council is meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, at 6:00 pm on the lower level of the new library, to talk about McEuen Park and Person Field.

I know it might seem sneaky for them to be dealing with these and several other major issues while most people are distracted by the just-completed holidays, but it’s par for the course with this administration.  They really don’t want you to show up—unless you agree with them.

So here’s the quick run down on McEuen:  Many of you saw the big article in the Press last week about the cost increases proposed for McEuen.  What a shock—they want more money!  About $5 million more. City Administrator Wendy Gabriel is proposing to take money from future city budgets and the Rainy Day fund.  They want more from LCDC and they also want $1.2 million from the property owners along Front Street.  On an original budget of about $14.2 million, it’s at least a 35% increase.

Parks Director Doug Eastwood was dancing as fast as he could at last week’s Team McEuen meeting, claiming he suddenly realized that too many of the fun parts of the park plan were cut out, just to meet the so-called budget, and he wants to put them back in.  He’s got “vision”.

But I’ve heard that the basic plan is more than $3 million over budget right now,  without all the extras added back.  I think Doug is flapping about his “vision” to divert attention from their spending overages, and he probably hopes to hide any management problems with the additional funding.

Councilman Mike Kennedy referred to the McEuen project a few months ago, when he said, “We’re not going over budget, that’s the bottom line”.  He’s oddly silent now. The Mayor promised there would be no tax increases because of McEuen—but when they take from future budgets and impose mandatory fees on adjoining property owners, those are tax increases.  And don’t forget that LCDC money is taxpayer money.  But the most outrageous quote of the whole mess came from Councilman Woody McEvers, who said,  “$5 million bucks to make it bitchin’? Let’s bite the bullet and go big.”

Should be interesting tomorrow night, to see how they handle this hot potato.  I’m hoping for at least one more incredibly inappropriate 70’s quote from our hippy dippy councilman!

Now on to the related, serious topic of poor little Person Field, the forgotten stepchild of city parks.  This plain, flat, grassy park is devoid of any fancy features like Doug Eastwood envisions for McEuen.  The Person Field neighbors are not asking for splash pads, tennis and basketball courts or bocce ball and pickle ball courts.  They’re not looking for amphitheaters or fountains or multi-level parking buildings with underground tunnels to glitzy high rise condos.  (Yes, I’m told that the underground hub for such possible tunnels is included in the Front Street plans—you don’t want those condo people to have to cross the street in the rain and snow, do you?—and does that mean the condos might be leasing parking spaces from the new McEuen parking building?  I’m sure the city will deny any of it, but just why do you think they pushed so hard to spend over $7 million to gain only a few more parking spaces than we had before?)

No, all the Person Field neighbors are hoping for is to hold onto the little park they’ve always had.  The City only owns half.  The School District owns the other half, but now they need money and are going to sell.  If the City  doesn’t buy it (price tag about $600,000), the district will put it out to bid for developers.

No political bigwigs live near Person Field. There will be no increased tax revenues to the city from this purchase.  It’s just an older, established neighborhood that has seen better days, trying to keep their only green space.

Tomorrow’s City Council Agenda shows there will be a “Person Field Update” presented by the City Finance Director Troy Tymeson and City Attorney Mike Gridley. (don’t know what they will say)

Immediately after that is a “McEuen Park Funding and Design Determination”, presented by City Administrator Wendy Gabriel. (if you want a“bitchin” park, Woody)

Also on the agenda are decision points about the $33.5 million dollar Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade and increases in our Water fees.  (which will cost us all a lot)

Welcome to 2013 in the City of Excellence.  Hang on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

17 Comments

  1. Mary,

    It pales in comparison, but don’t forget the approximately $4 million award that may come out of the Dixon lawsuit. And we will all be looking at a school levy soon, too.

    Comment by Bill — January 1, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  2. The city could have purchased Person Field years ago but refused to do so claiming they had no money. Year after year I raised the issue at budget hearings was told that the city had no money. It is time to hold a televised meeting between the city and the school district to address this issue in public. Let us hear the issues from both sides.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — January 1, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

  3. Yes, Bill, in fact that lawsuit could be closer to $5 million because the appeal is taking so long and there’s some sort of daily financial charge.

    Susie, a televised public meeting between the city and school district would be a great idea. I hope they will make it happen.

    You’ve also questioned, Susie, why the City pays to rent the meeting room in Parkside Tower for their Team McEuen meetings. Why don’t they have them in our library, where they can be televised so everyone can be up to date?

    Comment by mary — January 1, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

  4. Mary,

    I agree with having the Team McEuen held and televised from the Library — and then rebroadcast at several different times on Channel 19. It may have more to do with the video technician’s contract and payment than anything else. Then again, the City Council voted 5-0-1 (Edinger abstained but didn’t have the courage to vote “no”) to gleefully pick the taxpayers’ pockets to pay Councilman Mike Kennedy $69,660 for his private legal fees when he was already represented by the City Attorney’s office. Add the Kennedy payback to the cost of hiring the City’s Propagandist in Chief, and the money so obligated might have been better spent paying the technician to produce and air more relevant and informative programs like the Team McEuen meetings.

    Comment by Bill — January 2, 2013 @ 7:31 am

  5. Just wondering. Where is the city’s Communications Coordinator Consultant. Is it her job to coordinate the council members not communicating?

    Comment by up river — January 2, 2013 @ 8:36 am

  6. The Press editorial this morning was very interesting to say the least. To me it confirmed that the duplitious four do not expect to be re-elected in Nov. Perhaps that is wishfull thinking on my part…don’t think so. Which makes one wonder what puppet Mikey will do. On the one hand, his handlers want him on the council…on the other hand, voting in favor of this financially ruinous (to say nothing of esthetic abomination) will probably seal his fate in Nov.

    Comment by rochereau — January 2, 2013 @ 11:04 am

  7. I haven’t seen anything about it being televised. Does anyone know?

    Comment by reddy — January 2, 2013 @ 11:14 am

  8. Reddy,

    The scheduled City Council meetings are televised live on Channel 19 and then rebroadcast at odd times on Channel 19. As far as I know, only the City Library Community Room, NIC, and SD 271 have the technical ability to transmit or rebroadcast their meetings. Team McEuen meets at Parkside, and as far as I know, it has neither the interest nor the technical ability to transmit and record for rebroadcast meetings via Channel 19.

    Comment by Bill — January 2, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  9. Today’s CDA Press editorial reminds us that the City compromised with concerned citizens, dumping by the wayside a number of so called amenities because of their high cost. The council said the public’s concerns were being addressed. Obviously, the public’s concerns are no longer important and needing to be addressed as the so called comprise is being abandoned.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — January 2, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

  10. If I recall – it was never a compromise because the original contract was not amended. It was a railroad job that just lowered the costs for the time being to get it through the door. Big lie.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 2, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

  11. I recall too, Stebbijo, don’t you wish everybody did?

    Comment by mary — January 2, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  12. Gary, the Press editorial today seems to push the council to approve the extra spending; the newspaper’s view is pretty clear. Here’s a false statement from their editorial:

    “They (the extras) would be funded by existing dollars within the mission and the wherewithal of the city of Coeur d’Alene and the city’s urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp.”

    No. The city wants to take from FUTURE BUDGETS, which are not “existing dollars”, as well as the Rainy Day Fund, which is comprised of tax dollars as well and will have to be replaced. And remember that LCDC’s dollars for this project have been BORROWED against future taxpayer money. Interest charges are accruing.

    It’s just what we thought all along–a big shell game.

    Comment by mary — January 2, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  13. Bill, the paper says the meeting will be at 6 p.m. in the library Community Room, so perhaps it will be televised.

    Comment by reddy — January 2, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  14. Reddy

    The Council meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. in the Community Room, and it should be televised on Channel 19.

    Comment by Bill — January 2, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  15. It seems they only “compromised” long enough to sell their propoganda to the citizens to help them defeat the recall election. Are they going to change their signs they put up at McEuen that state the cost to be reduced to $14M?? Do they realize that no one can take them at their word and have no trust or respect for any of the fab4? And why do they NOT care??

    Between all the increases in out taxes at every level (including the latest SS tax increases) I don’t know how to make ends meet. This just tips me over the edge that this group wants MORE…and for something that shouldn’t even be a priority at this point in time. It’s a park for crying out loud. The underground parking should be removed because it’s just too expensive and parking can be built elsewhere and for a lot less. No means NO…stop the games!

    Comment by chouli — January 2, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

  16. Do you really think they care what people think of them or if they get re-elected? They got what they wanted. All of their properties and their friends properties are going through the roof and that is all the care about. Disgusting.

    Comment by concerned citizen — January 2, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

  17. So, how can we make changes to the city ordinance regarding the height limit restrictions on downtown buildings? I would like to see the ordinance change to restrict any more high rises being built downtown (other than what has already been approved). I have concerns about Front Street turning into a high rise corrider…and I’m fully aware of who all owns these lots. Isn’t ironic that a mgea park gets built right in front of their properties!?

    Any thoughts on changing the building restrictions back to limit more high rise towers being built? Say goodbye to the “quaint” small town CDA…

    Comment by chouli — January 3, 2013 @ 8:39 am

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