January 9, 2013

Another Action Alert?

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 1:36 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter  -1

—Yes, this is the public meeting we’ve been wanting; this is the public, televised meeting between the City Council and the School Board to cut through the obstacles and find an agreement on Person Field. Please join the fun in the lower level of the Library downtown, if you can, tomorrow, Thursday, at 5:00pm, or watch on Channel 19.

The School Board has been painted by many as being uncaring and money hungry in this process, which I think is wholly unfair.   Let me tell you why:

1.  The School Board is trying to be cautious with public money.  They are trying to fill budget shortfalls by reducing spending and selling unneeded assets.  Person Field will not be used for a school or any other district purpose, so it should not continue in the district’s possession.  But the School Board has ALWAYS said it should stay a park. 

2.  The City has always said they’d like to have the rest of Person Field, so it would be one park under the city’s ownership and care…forever.  They’ve asked the District to let them know when the School Board is ready to let go of their half of the field.

3.  And so the School Board did.  It notified the City Administrator and Mayor last October, and told them of the district’s timeline for the process.  The Mayor and Wendy did NOT tell the rest of the City Council about this opportunity.  They withheld the information until the deadline was past.

4.  School Board Chairman Tom Hamilton was surprised to hear that the City Council did not know about the situation, so Tom attended the next Council meeting and made a public statement about the School Board’s offer.  He also said he would ask his board to extend the deadline, which they did.

5.  The CITY then set the rules of the negotiations, with the Mayor asking for only one Attorney and one Finance person from each organization to meet and hash out the details in a private manner.

6.  I don’t think the district should have gone along with the Mayor’s request, but they did.  And now many people are mistakenly blaming the School Board for wanting everything behind closed doors.  No, that problem was on both sides.

7.  At last week’s City Council meeting, the Mayor told one of the School Board members, during a break, that the City doesn’t need the rest of Person Field, that they can make a nice small park with their half.  Now, today, the Mayor is disavowing this statement.  She’s claiming she was quoting what some citizen said to her.  I don’t think so.  I heard it directly from the Trustee.  Our Mayor is famous for claiming things that turn out to be untrue.  And Deanna Goodlander, at that same meeting last week, asked a citizen to gather ideas for developing a small park, calling that citizen later to explain they want a design for the city’s half.

8.  In public, at meetings, the City Council votes unanimously to “acquire” the rest of Person Field.  But what’s happening behind the scenes?—Are they really negotiating in good faith?  Or is the Mayor much more concerned about money for her prized McEuen Park project, which is seriously over budget?

9.  That’s why WE, the public, must be part of the process.  This is a decision by two public agencies about a property that is wholly owned by the public.  The process should be PUBLIC all the way through.

10.  Your presence will help.  Your involvement in the process will put much needed pressure on both sides to come to a reasonable resolution of this situation with the winner not being the City or the School Board.  The winner must be the PUBLIC.

See you Thursday!


PS– here’s a note from one of my readers:  “McEuen meeting set for Thursday: The Coeur d’Alene City Council will meet at noon Thursday in City Hall to discuss three details of the McEuen Field and Front Avenue designs. The council will decide what it wants to do with three components of the plans: Second and Third Street design, details on the proposed Harbor House and whether a pair of Front Avenue property owners will be allowed curb cuts on the sidewalks.”


  1. I wish all of you a very successful turnout and I hope you all show up in droves of hundreds with your children! I will be there in spirit from my sitting position here at home tomorrow. Good luck!

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 9, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

  2. I found it very interesting that the noon meeting on Thursday to discuss the MeEuen Field and Front St. street designs was buried in todays Cda. Press, North Idaho Briefs January 9, 2013. I did not find an anouncement on their web page. So much for communication.

    Comment by LTR — January 9, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  3. The School Board Trustees are public officials who are, by virtue of their positions, legally obligated to act in the best interests of School District 271, not the City of Coeur d’Alene. The Mayor and City Council have the same obligation to the citizens of Coeur d’Alene.

    I agree that the City is trying to make the District Trustees out as being the bad guys in this. People need to understand that the School District is not an asset belonging to the Coeur d’Alene city government. The School District is a separate statutory entity. Finally there is a Board of Trustees who are showing signs of fulfilling their duties as public officials rather than as subjects of the City. The Mayor and some members of the City Council are having trouble dealing with this reality.

    It is desirable that to the extent both the District and the City can cooperate without compromising their legal obligations, they should. But the District Trustees’ first obligation is to the school district.

    Comment by Bill — January 9, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Well, it’s breaking that the Mayor/District has decided not to accept public comment and it’s being posted over on the “other site” – Dan Gookin has responded that he was not notified of the decision and he is going to review his motion.

    Hopefully, this action spurs even more folks to show up. The people are obviously out of the loop these days in CdA, Idaho. With no voice, what else do we have left?

    Public comment needs to be allowed. I thought that was the purpose of the meeting – to get citizen involvement? The city had a meeting until almost 1 o’clock in the morning last week over several issues.

    This meeting tomorrow concerns one topic. Public comment should not be denied. Why is it being denied? Is everyone going to have to show up again at the next city council meeting to be heard?

    Per Dan Gookin:

    That must have been a decision reached by staff. I don’t remember being asked. In fact, I believe I made such a request about public comment in my motion, but I’d have to confirm that by watching the video.

    It is a mess.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 9, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

  5. Regarding my January 9, 2013 @ 3:28 pm pos.

    UPDATE: The City’s new communication spokesperson finally posted a comment on the city’s web page after 5 p.m. tonight regarding McEuen Park street designs.

    Comment by LTR — January 9, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

  6. From the City’s web page:

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013
    Person Field negotiations continue Thursday

    Coeur d’Alene City Council and School Board Trustees will meet tomorrow to work out an agreement on the sale of the school district’s portion of Person Field. The city, which owns half of the field, is trying to acquire the other half in an effort to keep the field public green space. However, both sides have been unable to agree on terms of a deal. Thursday’s meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the Community Room at the Public Library. The public is invited to attend. The meeting also will be televised on Channel 19.

    * The meeting is workshop and not a public hearing. Those interested in providing comment can do so by emailing Emailed comments will be delivered to Council and the School Board.

    Comment by LTR — January 9, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  7. … and then our city administrator says – from the other blog.

    “It is not up to staff whether the public will be allowed to comment. It is up to the City Council and the School District. Maybe we should have that issue resolved at the beginning of the meeting. I will add it to the schedule that has been drafted for the meeting to keep us on track and focused.”

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 9, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

  8. Actually, I concluded that Deanna was discussing improvements for only the property actually owned by the city. I stated to her that the thought of 36 housing units on the present district property chilled me to the bone. After seven years of urging the city to purchase the property to maintain the entire property as a park in perpetuity, why would I or any citizen be satisfied with less?

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — January 9, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  9. Isn’t it outrageous for a public entity like; the CDA School District to even entertain the thought of selling the publics land, to a private entity? It’s not their land to sell. Sure, they manage it and I know we can vote ppl out of office if we don’t like what they do, but I find alot of these public officials actions unacceptable.

    Why can’t the school district throw-in Bryan Field and ask for the price they originally wanted for Persons Field? Compromise on both sides can’t fail.

    Comment by kageman — January 10, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  10. I know the city seems to be dragging their feet, because of the costs to McEuen Park. But, compromise doesn’t seem to be in play here.

    Comment by kageman — January 10, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  11. Life sure isn’t fair, that is for sure.

    It’s about getting the most bang for the buck in regards to the school district budget – couple hundred thousand dollars is an amount they might not want to give up, I would think. And if the city can’t produce the funds – some other entity might or can. The city is basically first in line for consideration. Thus, my thought is with so many years that have dragged by, the city passed up the opportunity to obtain the field. They have focused on other projects that have cost of millions – Person Field has not been a priority. Now, the district is ready to sell. Our city administrator neglects to tell the council and others what is happening while deals were being made on other city developments. So, essentially, the city has to take their offer or chance losing that half of Person’s Field. Now, we have the blame game if/when it all falls apart. In fact the spin has already started. What’s new? After all, this is Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. On that note, I do hope there is a compromise. The people deserve the consideration this time for a change.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 10, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  12. Good points Stebbijo. Kageman, the school district has a responsibility to every taxpayer in SD 271 not just those residing within Cd’A. The district should get the best offer from any willing buyer and should not in anyway be beholden to the city. School districts sell land and buildings all the time as objectives change over time. This transaction should be arms length from any and all agreements between SD271 and the city.
    The only commonality that exists is that they are both public entities but the both stand alone.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — January 10, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

  13. Kageman,

    How do you conclude the school district cannot sell the land it owns?

    Idaho Code 33-301. School districts bodies corporate. Each school district, now or hereafter established, when validly organized and existing, is declared to be a body corporate and politic, and in its corporate capacity may sue and be sued and may acquire, hold and convey real and personal property necessary to its establishment, extension and existence. It shall have authority to issue negotiable coupon bonds and incur such other debt, in the amounts and manner, as provided by law.

    Idaho Code 33-601. real and personal property — acquisition, use or disposal of same. The board of trustees of each school district shall have the following powers and duties:
    (4) (a) To convey, except as provided by paragraph (b) of this subsection, by deed, bill of sale, or other appropriate instrument, all of the estate and interest of the district in any property, real or personal.

    The City does not own the land; the School District does. It no longer needs the land, but it does need cash. It would be irresponsible for the Trustees to keep land it does not need and for which it has no foreseeable use. The Mayor and City Council have had years to acquire the District’s part of Person Field, but the Mayor and City Council made conscious decisions to spend money elsewhere. Where was your outrage when the Mayor and City Council happily voted to spend about $462,000 of your (public) money to buy 7 acres of land from the Mayor’s half-brother Pat Acuff? Where was your outrage when the Mayor and City Council happily voted to pay the Prosecuting Attorney’s wife about $100,000 for an overpriced piece of public art that sits at the east end of Dogpatch?

    The City says the District’s appraised price for its Person Field land is too high. Yet the City’s sequential headnodders on the Planning Commission and the City Council didn’t see anything wrong with rezoning the Mill Site to C-17 to enable NIC’s hired lone appraiser Ed Morse justify NIC’s spending over $10 million of your (public) money to buy land that NIC supposedly wanted for “educational” purposes. No, the City was complicit in a prospective appraisal, an appraisal that did not value the land as it sat but what it would be worth if certain things happened (e.g., artificially inflate the land’s worth by zoning it C-17 commercial rather than zoning it R-17, the zoning of the rest of the NIC campus.) But Gridley and the others at Corrupt d’Alene City Hall don’t want you to remember they’ve been complicit in screwing over the taxpayers. So they hardly have any moral standing to accuse the School District Trustees of gouging the City.

    It’s very simple: The District complied with the law and got a legitimate appraisal. (I’d agree it would be better if Idaho law required all public bodies to get two or three appraisals by truly non-party, disinterested appraisers and then mathematically use the appraisals to calculate the final appraised value. But that is not what the law requires. Blame the Idaho legislature.) Given the years that the City has neglected its opportunity to deal with the School District and buy the land, I’d say the Trustees have been more than reasonable with the City.

    Comment by Bill — January 10, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

  14. Congratulations to the District School Board and the City for a job well done!! And, and additional kudos to Bruce McNiel – for bringing it all together with some very valuable citizen input!

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 10, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

  15. Kageman,

    How do you conclude the school district cannot sell the land it owns? Bill

    I just thought the school district had a moral obligation to try everything in their power to return the parcel they had to the taxpaying public. So, the citizens of CDA can use all of Persons Field as a park. Now, Stebbijo, says they came to an agreement. I can’t wait to hear the details of the agreement.

    Comment by kageman — January 10, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

  16. TomH is posting on HBO – I thought someone would have beat me to the punch so I kind of reserved the details – everyone must be celebrating. Minimum of 655K – not more than 750K. Details that satisfy Idaho Code — like the appraisal and best interest stuff need to be taken care of – lawyer stuff/formality.

    Bruce McNeil, I think was a riveting moment in getting the deal thru the door – citizen activism at it’s peak. He brought it to the halfway mark by offering the difference. It was wonderful. Everyone, seriously, did very well.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 10, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  17. Oh, and let’s not forget SusieS and Dan Gookin for getting the meeting to the public!

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 10, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

  18. Stebbijo,

    They have a tentative agreement subject to the appraisal of the Bryan property. I watched and recorded it, and as I understand it, the District will get more than the City’s cash offer and closer to the appraised value of Person in real dollars. The exact amount will be determined by the appraisal on Bryan playfield factored in to the City’s original cash only offer. The Northshire Park property is off the table and will likely be sold outright by the School District if it gets an acceptable offer. The use of District property by the City will be negotiated separately.

    The thing I’m most unclear on but what I hope will be put in place is an airtight deed restriction that forces the City to maintain the entirety of Person Field as a city park in perpetuity. Such a restriction must unequivocally keep the City from dividing the Park, selling part of it to a developer, and then leaving the neighborhood with a smaller park or none at all. The City needs a separate zone specifically for City Parks. Right now, parks are zoned R-something, I think R-1.

    Also, Bruce MacNeil did not offer to personally make up any difference. What he said was that the amount of the difference was so small that the City should make it up out of its seemingly bottomless “rainy day” fund, and he said that as a Coeur d’Alene taxpayer, he would be happy to make [his part] of that payment to keep Person Field in tact.

    Bruce and Linda MacNeil and Susie Snedaker have been battling our loopy mayor and City Council for at least seven years. It looks as if their tireless and persistent efforts have paid off for the benefit of the community.


    The school board of trustees have thus far fulfilled their legal obligations and have made every effort to keep the Park as public land. As I believe Superintendent Bauman said tonight, the Trustees are responsible to all their constituents, including those in Dalton, Hayden, etc., and they have an equal moral and legal responsibility to those people as well. In other words, the Trustees can’t favor people simply because they live in Coeur d’Alene. It seemed to me the Trustees fulfilled their obligations tonight.

    Comment by Bill — January 10, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

  19. The meeting tonight started out devolving into the weeds on issues of ownership history, the Joint Powers Agreement and security considerations. I was feeling nervous. But then the possibility of Byan Playfield was brought forward and that took the limelight. It ended up that both the school district and city agreed on a deal to buy both Person and Byan for between $655k-750k, depending on the outcome of the appraisal on Bryan.

    Kudos to CdA City Councilman Dan Gookin who worked hard to make this public, televised meeting happen. He pushed at both last week’s city council meeting and at Monday night’s School Board very long meeting (no one else from the council took the time to attend). Without Dan’s persistence, this gathering would never have happened. And without this public, televised meeting, the elected officials (egos) in both groups would never have agreed to the terms of this deal. It’s a Win, Win, Win for City, School Board and Public! Thanks to you all.

    Comment by mary — January 10, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

  20. Thanks Kageman – for the clarifications – I can see how I misunderstood the statement (McNiel) – but be certainly made a difference in his statement that brought the deal to the forefront. A job well done by everyone.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 11, 2013 @ 7:58 am

  21. It was a productive and interesting meeting.
    Curiously, I had an epiphany while watching and listening. The roles played were all in order except one.
    We had the School Superintendent, Hazel Bauman, the CSB chairperson, Tom Hamlin and the CdA city council Mayor, Mike Kennedy.
    That’s right Mayor Kennedy 🙂 he lead for the city’s case and stepped over Mrs.Bloem in some instances not with malice mind you as I noticed her touyching his shoulder or arm to prompt him to speak or respond. This isn’t to say they didn’t discuss it as being that way prior as Mike did do a great job. Granted, a good leader will deligate to what resources and tools that best serve them but, it just seemed like some of that and, some of being unable to be effective. I don’t know, maybe it was just me.
    I like the Mayor but for some reason she seemed, out of sorts, perhaps tired, perhaps unable to keep up. Granted all sides had their “teams” who imparted significant input but their efforts were then reiterated and championed by their perspective leaders. It just seemed that the city deferred that to Mr Kennedy, rightfully so in my opinion. As it served the city well in this negotiation.

    Comment by Eric — January 11, 2013 @ 8:44 am

  22. Mary,

    As you correctly pointed out, it was Dan Gookin’s motion at the last council meeting that forced the reluctant Mayor and other council members to do their jobs.

    Motion by Gookin, seconded by Kennedy to direct staff to arrange a meeting between the School District and the City Council to be televised for the purpose of settling the acquisition of Person Field. Motion carried.

    It also forced the Trustees to do theirs.

    Bloem is worthless. After announcing that the audience would not be allowed to address the combined boards, she sat idly and compliantly by when Edinger directed Gridley to read a letter from some local resident named Burchell into the record. It was, I believe, the right decision for the boards to agree there would be no public comment, but for Bloem to then allow that to be violated so flagrantly was a face slap to the people who packed the room.

    Overall, the Trustees came across as far better prepared and informed and far more businesslike and professional.

    Comment by Bill — January 11, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  23. Overall, the Trustees came across as far better prepared and informed and far more businesslike and professional.</i

    I agree and their 'role modeling' so to speak is most likely the reason the city also stepped up their game, usually during a city council meeting it can really digress. There were moments but since it was a productive gathering, I do not want to focus on those behaviors.

    In the long run, the people, won this deal. They deserve the credit for a job well done as well. Without their community involvement, Person's Field would be lost.

    I am not privy to any special memories of Person Field, but it is is easy to see how important this parcel was to the community above any other acquisitions or projects. People can breathe a little easier, now. Some of those bigger pills might be easier to swallow.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 11, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  24. “I am not privy to any special memories of Person Field”.

    I have alot of memories of Persons Field. My aunt and grandfather took me to CDA High School football games from the late 60’s to early 70’s. I also, played football there in the late 70’s. It’s great that Persons Field will remain a public park.

    Comment by kageman — January 11, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

  25. That’s cool, Kage.

    I like watching from the sidelines and reading the emotional connections when it comes to certain landmarks and places in this area. While I am native to Idaho, I am not native to Coeur d’Alene, however, I recognize any emotional attachment one develops when they have been raised here or lived here for years as well as coming back to the community they are from. Coeur d’Alene was the big city for me in the 70’s when we would stop at the drive in – where Les Schwab is now on Government- for a burger on the way home from Worley after the football games. Of course Government Way is nothing like it used to be.

    It’s easy to figure out that Person’s Field is a piece of town that refused to go down the road of progress and development and it gives me special satisfaction when the people win something because they fought the good fight.


    Comment by Stebbijo — January 11, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

  26. And if the people did not pull together the mayor and cohorts would have had their way and kageman would have at least been able to play arena style football with half the field.

    Happy to see the people win for once against this arrogant crew.

    Thank you to all involved. 🙂

    Comment by concerned citizen — January 11, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

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