$10 million dollars is what NIC expects to pay
for the Stimson/DeArmon mill site. This price
equates to $588,200 per acre, making this old mill
site next to the sewage treatment plant among the
most expensive properties ever in the State of Idaho. Yet
Kootenai County assessed the land in 2007 at only $2.4
million and NIC has not obtained a real estate appraisal
on the property. And why does NIC Trustee Mic
Armon call it "The Next Tubb's Hill"?
Mic is just repeating the public relations mantra
floated by Mayor Bloem, Councilman Mike Kennedy and
others. They like to put a simple label or "brand" on
a complicated subject so people won't look beyond
the headline. Tubb's Hill? Who could argue
against that? But take a closer look: Tubb's
Hill is a park. It's full of trees, solitude,
open views and walking trails. The mill site would
be full of buildings, parking lots, streets, sidewalks,
busy students and lots of traffic...next to a sewage
plant. It would not be a park, certainly not
at all like Tubb's Hill; it's not a legitimate comparison.
If the goal is to preserve the riverfront for
public use, there are other possible methods. The
mill site is not yet part of the City of CdA. City
staff can negotiate the annexation agreement to include
a public trail and/or parkland along the riverfront.
And the rest of the property can be controlled by
the zoning density the City Council sets during annexation.
But beyond the Tubb's Hill catch phrase, the real
concern should be the mission of North Idaho College.
It's a two year community college, paid for by all
the taxpayers of Kootenai County. NIC's goal
should be to provide the best community college education
possible in the most cost effective manner for the
students and taxpayers. Apparently, the NIC
Board of Trustees does not agree.
In their "Resolution in Support of the Acquisition & Development
of the Educational Corridor" which was approved
unanimously in 2007 and again last week, they list
many points that appear outside the common sense
responsibilities for a community college. Here
are several examples:
1. "WHEREAS the land will provide otherwise
limited opportunity for expansion of centralized
educational programs on the Associate, Bachelors
and Masters levels for citizens of Kootenai County
and North Idaho."
NIC is only responsible for the Associate degree
level. We, the Kootenai County taxpayers should
not be paying for land to supply Bachelors and Masters
degree level education--that's the state's role.
But if NIC buys the land, we're paying for it.
2. "WHEREAS acquisition of the property
will maintain quality property and waterfront for
public use and recreational access."
Is this the job of a community college? And should
Kootenai County taxpayers be paying for recreational
access in the city of CdA? No and No.
3. "WHEREAS ownership of the property
will provide growth of the CdA wastewater treatment
facility well into the future."
Not a community college job. Besides, the City
of CdA already owns property on the other side of
the wastewater treatment plant where the old Osprey
building sits. The rate payers paid for it years
ago with a Wastewater Bond in case the treatment
plant needs to expand. And, again, the County taxpayers
should not have to pay for CdA's sewage expansion
4. "WHEREAS acquisition of the property
will achieve objectives and purposes of the Midtown,
NW Boulevard and Downtown Urban Renewal Districts
and enhance economic development opportunities for
Why should County taxpayers pay even more than
they already do because of urban renewal in the city
5. "WHEREAS acquisition will provide
for an improvement to the visual entrance to downtown
Some little Grandma in Harrison should pay more
6. "WHEREAS acquisition will provide
additional land for private commercial development
along NW Boulevard."
This one's my favorite. The County taxpayers
should fund land for private commercial development
on NW Blvd?...no way.
NIC is considering the use of Foregone Taxes as
part of the $10 million payment. Foregone are
taxes they could have taken in the past but did not
need. Mic Armon said they are "entitled" to
$2.6 million in Foregone, which will then become
part of their annual budget and be included in the
taxpayer's burden each year thereafter. And
all the Urban Renewal districts in the county will
get extra money if NIC takes Foregone taxes. We'll
just pay more.
Very little information has been made public and
very few questions have been answered. So a
public forum has been organized by active citizens,
co-sponsored by the North Idaho Education Forum and
the Pachyderm Club with help from the Mica Flats
Grange and other groups as well. The event
will take place at the CdA Inn next Tuesday night,
May 13th. It's a casual dinner for $18 per
person (just to cover costs), with social hour from
6:00-7:00pm and the dinner and panel discussion to
follow. Here are the panel members:
Ron Vieselmeyer, NIC Trustee
John Goedde, State Senator and Chair of Senate
Bob Nonini, State Representative and Chair of
House Ed. Comm.
Mike Jorgenson, State Senator and Senate Ed. Comm.
Rich Piazza, Kootenai County Commissioner
Mike McDowell, Kootenai County Assessor
Dennis Wheeler, CEO of Coeur d' Alene Mines
Bob Potter, former Jobs Plus Director (currently
Mary Souza, (me) Concerned Citizen
Several other community leaders were invited to
be on the panel, but declined: CdA Councilman
Woody McEvers had to check with "the people" and
then left a message saying No. NIC Trustee
Christie Wood said No and Trustee Mic Armon said
probably not. Post Falls Mayor
Clay Larkin had a scheduling conflict.
Board Chairman Fred Ostermeyer is recovering from
surgery and NIC President Priscilla Bell is as
well. Because of this, they were both considered,
but not invited.
So, there you have it. An interesting opportunity
awaits us all to exchange information, ask questions
and voice opinions. Please come to the forum
next Tuesday. Just RSVP by calling Betty Henderson
at 664-7312. Kudos to the active
citizens who stepped up to organize this event. Their
actions remind me of a favorite quote from the famous
anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who studied cultures
and civilizations all over the world: "Never
doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned
citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only
thing that ever has. "
See you Tuesday, May 13 at 6pm. Remember
to RSVP soon.