I went to the McEuen Field Open House at NIC Thursday night, presented by the City. What a show! It was awesome! There were so many fancy features! I can’t stop using exclamation points because of all the amazing things we have the opportunity to get! And we don’t need to worry about how to pay for them! Isn’t that great?!
Parks Director Doug Eastwood actually said to the overwhelming crowd that filled the room to capacity, with standing room maxed all around the edges, all across the back, out the door and completely covering the upper landing of the NIC Student Union building...it was an enormous turnout...anyway, Doug said, “Once the project has been generally accepted by the public and the city council has given its approval, then we’ll figure out how to pay for it.”
It was a Nancy Pelosi moment! (Just pass the bill then we’ll figure out what’s in it!)
Contrary to the city’s methods, we citizens do not operate our homes or businesses by committing to plans or purchases for which we have no pricing. That is irresponsible. We want reasonable, phased-in upgrades and improvements that we know we can afford, factored into the context of essential city services, and only when the time is right.
And we want a PUBLIC VOTE before any final action is approved.
So here are big opportunities for McEuen Field (and I am not making these up):
- A huge 1/2 acre Freedom Fountain that resembles the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas (it would mean taking out the Freedom Tree that’s been there forever, but it’s ok because they’ve plotted the angles and that spot is in the “emotional center” of the park. That’s how we think in North Idaho?)
- Two more fountains are in the park: “Urban water” they called them. (but don’t we have a huge lake right there...?)
- Not one, not two but there are three shell-like sitting areas for performances or gatherings, two of them are down by the lake and are south-facing concrete steps that will get the direct summer sun.
- There’s a bridge from the old boat launch area (yeah, that’s gone...tune in next week) over to the Resort’s boardwalk. Again, very nice but bridges are expensive!
- There’s a long, submerged sidewalk stretching way out into the lake near the old boat launch. It’s about 3 or 4” under water so people can walk along and get their feet wet! Cute! (oops, where’s grandma? where did she go?)
- And you won’t believe this one: That submerged sidewalk turns into the perimeter for an ice skating pond when the lake’s water level goes down in the winter! They’ll put in ice freezing machines and turn it into a skating pond. And there’s also a “seasonal canopy” that is a huge tent-like canopy covering for the ice skating area (think of the Expo ‘74 pavilion in downtown Spokane before that canopy shredded from the weather and was too expensive to replace so they just left the bare wire supports)
- The boat launch will be gone (let's talk next week) but they want to expand the Public Mooring Docks. The docks have 42 spots now, they want to build out to more than 70.
- And there will be a Harbor House which is a big building to have someone (a business?) manage the boat docks plus a water taxi service and kayak and canoe rentals and concession shops.
- You will love this one: They want to improve the west entrance to Tubb’s Hill by expanding and improving the trail and making waterfalls on each side of the entrance.
- No more baseball. Those fields will be gone. But now we’ll have Boce Ball and Pickle Ball! So North Idaho.
- You think the kid’s play area at City Park is nice? You haven’t seen the slick, upscale, sophisticated set up for McEuen. Doug said it takes Ft. Sherman play area to a whole new level! And there will be a kid’s splash pad fountain there as well!
- And a Pocket Dog Park too! (I think it’s for all dogs, not just pocket dogs.)
- There will be a new and improved Skate Board Park right near the dogs!
- A new trail will be made on Tubbs, going all across the north face of the hill. It will be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Accessible) and have observation areas and a tower at the top.
- The eastern exit for this ADA trail will also have waterfalls!
- Reminder: They don’t know how much these elaborate features will cost to purchase or maintain.
- And they will cut away trees to make a sledding hill going from the upper north face of Tubbs all the way down onto McEuen Field.
- But don’t get me started on the parking. The current parking lot will be gone, the boat trailer parking too. They are planning a partially underground parking structure for more than 1200 cars (there are 600 spaces now). Quick estimates done from internet sites on partly below ground parking show that this kind of building could cost more than $35 million dollars. But the city won’t give any cost info. They say they don’t know.
I’m going to allow myself a personal rant right now, so tune out if you wish:
Remember last Spring when I wrote a Newsletter on the possible renovations to McEuen, stating I had heard there would be a partially underground parking structure where the old tennis courts used to be? The Mayor went wild! She called me out, by name, in the middle of an official city council meeting and said I was a liar.
Guess what? The parking structure in the proposed plan? Just like I described. In the exact spot. Two levels below ground, precisely as I reported.
Steve Adams, who is a great guy, went to the following city council meeting last Spring and told the Mayor that he was the source of my information, details he learned directly from City Treasurer Troy Tymeson. Steve respectfully asked the Mayor to apologize for calling me a liar. She refused.
Ok, I'm done now and we can return to our regular programming.
Does this plan say “North Idaho” to you? Is this us? Does this concept for McEuen enhance the reasons you chose to live in this beautiful town?
In my opinion it does not. It doesn’t feel natural; it seems contrived. But that’s just me and I’m absolutely willing to go along with any design that is approved by a PUBLIC VOTE. I hope there will be one.
Stand up, people. Give your opinions. Go to their web site at www.mceuenpark.com
They have a questionnaire for you and, if you agree that there should be a PUBLIC VOTE before any plans are finalized, please include that in your comments. Also please tell them you’d like open public questions at the next meeting on Feb. 3rd.
Thursday's meeting had an outstanding turnout. You have their attention. Please take the time to read about it and weigh in with your own view.
Oh, by the way... Happy New Year! Tune in next week and we’ll talk more about McEuen by trying to answer the question: Why Now?
Have a great weekend. --Mary