OpenCDA

January 25, 2013

McEuen Plan Hurts Businesses

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 4:56 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter  -1

On January 10th, our City Council voted to take away the Front Street driveways of two businesses across from McEuen Park.  This decision will negatively impact the value of these properties. But, in a highly questionable move, the Council allowed another business, on the same section of the street, to keep its two driveways. Want to know why?  Me too.  Here are my observations: 

The two businesses that are losing their driveways (called “curb cuts” in city street dept lingo) are the Wigget Mall building on 4th & Front, and the Coeur d’Alene Mines building on 5th & Front.   The owner of the Wigget Mall building is John Montandon, who also owns the Sherman Hardware store down near 12th Street.  Remember John from the Recall CdA effort?  He allowed both Recall and Anti-Recall people to use his front parking area to hold signs and gather signatures.  The Mayor’s son came out and screamed obscenities at some Recall volunteers and the Mayor’s daughter called her friends to cancel their accounts at John’s store.  In the past, the City bought quite a bit from John’s hardware store, but currently they buy almost nothing.  Retaliation?  And now it’s John’s building near McEuen.  The Wiggett Antiques people have leased John’s building there for years.  They use the driveway on Front Street to get into their garage and unload their antiques deliveries. The city says now they will have to unload from the street.  That’s not good.

John’s driveway on Front has been there as long as anyone can remember.  But Mayor Bloem was very cavalier in her remarks at the Council Meeting.  The minutes quote her as saying “…there are other successful businesses that load from the roadway and/or alleys every day and continue to be very successful.” Antiques, Mayor?  Old, fragile items in the rain and snow?  John’s tenants say they will move.

The Coeur d’Alene Mines building is a mystery to me, in that they have never, to my knowledge, been politically active on either side of the McEuen or Recall issues.  But their company will be relocating its headquarters out of CdA . They are taking it to Chicago.  Our town will lose many good jobs and I’m guessing their building will be up for sale.  Taking away their access driveway on Front will certainly reduce the value of their building.

Which brings us to the business that gets to keep its access driveways.  Can you guess who owns the property?  Here are some clues:  He and his business partner are big CdA power players. One is the Boss of Councilman Mike Kennedy and parent of the Anti-Recall’s co-founder, the other was the former Chair of LCDC for about 15 years and they bought the property while he was in charge and McEuen was on LCDC’s list of projects. Yes, it’s Steve Meyer and Charlie Nipp.  Their Bank of America property gets special treatment.

All of which seems to create a recipe for lawsuits against the City.  What are they thinking?  But City Attorney Mike Gridley, who’s apparently far too distracted by his “Visioning” project to pay attention to such trivial things as potential lawsuits, says, according to the meeting minutes, “…that it would not be a taking in that the city is exercising its police powers, for general safety.”  So, the City is saying that driving over a public sidewalk, by using a driveway, is a safety risk.  But not if you’re going to the bank!

Oh, and let me not forget to point out that City Attorney Gridley told Councilman Mike Kennedy that he would not have to recuse himself from voting on the Front Street project which would affect his Boss’ driveways and property values.  Mike works full time for Steve Meyer at InterMax Communications.  It’s his main job!

What a bunch of bunk.  And so it continues, dear readers, on and on.  The only way to stop this nonsense is to change the people on the Council.  Every one of these votes has been a split decision, with the Mayor breaking the tie to side with Kennedy, Goodlander and McEvers.  These four are all up for election on November 5th, 2013.  Mark your calendars and get ready to VOTE!

I hope you have a great weekend and I will leave you with the statement below, from the owners of Wiggett’s Antiques, which was posted on our web site blog at OpenCdA.com  As a small business owner, I find their comments heart-wrenching.  It makes me think of that Thomas Jefferson quote, “A government that is big enough to give you everything you want, (or what they think you should want, ie: McEuen), is strong enough to take everything you have.”  Best to you –Mary
*****

My husband, Johnny and I own Wiggett’s Antique Marketplace in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Wiggett’s has been a part of downtown CDA for approx. 25 years. Mayor, S. Bloem, City councilmembers-D. Goodlander,(also board member of LCDC), M. Kennedy and Woody (Surfer Boy from California)recently voted to take away our curb cuts which allows our dealers/vendors and customers to load and unload in our lower level of our 10,000 sq.ft.mall. The same 4 some has also voted to take away all parking (including handicap) on 4th St., between Front and Sherman.

It was explained to us that it is against the law and unsafe for our dealers and customers to drive across the city sidewalk to enter or leave our garage. My goodness, has anyone checked to see how many businesses and residents in the downtown area have to drive across a city sidewalk to access their property? We were told that the parking was being taken away so that visitors could access the sidewalk on 4th between Front and Sherman; as the city is going to widen the sidewalks in this block to accommodate all the foot traffic in this block. Thus, we have employees and about 40 dealers that will be looking for other income. Of course my husband and I cannot get unemployment because we are small business owners…so we will be on our own to figure out a way to make an income.

Hmmm…could this simply be political??? I know that the owner of our building was for the recall of the mayor and these same council members last summer….the city has also voted to take out the curb cuts for Coeur d’Alene Mining Co….I’ll bet they were also for the recall. Funny though, Bank of America (our next door neighbor to the east of us on Front St.) gets to keep their curb cuts (hmmm and customers and vendors will be using their driveway and driving across a city sidewalk!). Bet the owner of Bank of America property voted against the recall!

The American Automobile Assn. contacted me four years ago and asked if they could list our store as a “destination of choice” for people visiting the CDA area (free of charge for us!). We get people from all over the world and US visiting us every year! Wiggett’s Antique Marketplace has also been voted the Best Antique Store for 5 years from the readers of the Press, Inlander (out of Spokane) and readers of the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Living Magazine. So, it is with heavy hearts that Wiggett’s may have to close our doors because we don’t meet with the McEuen Park changes. We have truly loved being a part of downtown CDA…supporting the downtown assn. with the flower baskets, street fair, chocolate affair., etc. Want to send out a special thank you for all of you that have supported us these past five years! God Bless You All!
Comment by wiggettsmall — January 23, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

9 Comments

  1. This is really sad. I wasn’t aware of the connection of Mr. Montandon owning the building and also being the Sherman Hardware owner and supporting the recall last year. Then the mining company business moving to Chicago. This gives, or adds to, the bad name for our city. Sure sounds like retaliation to me, and maybe they had to throw another business down the drain so it wouldn’t appear to be picking on just Montandon. Pitiful really.

    Comment by reddy — January 25, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised if the city hears from CDA Mines before they leave!

    On another note, when the city begins to tear up front and redo sidewalks and roads and they divert the public to other roads and sidewalks, what impact will Sherman create with all of its lights, what impact will this create on the homeowners above Sherman? I can imagine it know, the streets will be backed up all the way to freeway!

    What about Car d’ Alene, the street Fair, Iron Man? Where is the public suppose to go? Where are the cars suppose to go, Sherman and Lakeside cannot handle the amount of traffic that will be created. I can’t wait for the entertainment.

    One more thing, the Lake Coeur d’ Alene drive discussion what happened to it? Is the city just holding on to that agreement in case they run out money? I hear the budgets for everything are getting a little low!

    Comment by lexacon — January 25, 2013 @ 6:04 pm

  3. Lex: The ITD transfer for CDA Lake Drive is still in the works. The last I heard is that there will be another Council workshop in the near future. I do not know precisely when.

    Comment by Dan — January 25, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

  4. This summer will be difficult for CdA. I’ve been told that access to Front street will be closed all season long. You’re right, Lexacon, to ask where the cars will go, where the boats will be launched, where the street fair will go…and I can’t imagine Ironman without Front Street. Will the city wait until afterward to rip it up? Maybe Dan can tell us.

    Comment by mary — January 25, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

  5. There will be some temporary parking on McEuen for downtown, with plans for some type of shuttle service to downtown. That was the last I heard. Ironman is looking for a location for their Big Tent. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    Comment by Dan — January 25, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

  6. I also feel sad for those businesses losing their rights and freedoms. I find it very interesting the Downtown Business Association is not stepping up to protect their neighbors. Are they really going to let Mayor Bloem continue to muzzle their voices? Is our community going to approve selective enforcement? Are we headed towards a mafia style city government?

    Yes, I feel very sad for Mr. Montandon who’s family has owned that property for a life time or two.

    Comment by LTR — January 26, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

  7. So Wiggetts may be forced to move out of downtown? This is a business that attracts tourists and fits in perfectly for CDA guests and upscale shoppers. Mcscrewim Park is not about revitalization of downtown after all. And now there is a new scheme under way at city hall, something about a Gridley Vision project.

    Boise has Julia Davis Park. Coeur d’Alene has Sandi Bloem Park; one difference being who paid for them.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — January 27, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  8. Every single person on the DTA board has been groomed and stands with bloom and company to follow through with their “VISION”. Those on the DTA board do not give a rats pattutie about the actual downtown businesses except their own and their cliquie little “YES” group.

    Comment by concerned citizen — January 27, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  9. Who would want to patronize the business of someone who was against an Advisory Vote on McEuen? Wouldn’t anyone want our localleaders to be more open-minded and give the residents of CDA more of a voice on McEuen’s future?

    Comment by kageman — January 27, 2013 @ 11:15 am

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