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Growth spurt will mean more park space by 2040

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Hagadone News Network | February 20, 2021 1:00 AM

Coeur d’Alene’s character can be found in its commitment to parks and open, natural space. But if the city is going to keep up with growth, the city will need to find more acreage over the next two decades.

Monte McCulley, trails coordinator for the city of Coeur d’Alene, gave a presentation Tuesday night, shortly before the city adopted the 2021 Parks Master Plan, in which he detailed the status quo making the city’s parks busier and busier by 2040.

“Every city is different,” McCulley said. “They have a different standard, depending on the age of the population, what your population needs or wants. Once you establish a level of service, you want to always try to keep to that. So as your city grows, your parks also need to grow.”

As of 2020, Coeur d’Alene established a level of service of 4.7 acres of park per 1,000 residents, in keeping with the city’s 51,000 residents. This represents an upward trend from 2008, when the city boasted just over 3 acres per 1,000 residents, servicing about 41,000 residents.

“We’d like our level of service to be about a five,” McCulley said.

But with the city’s population expected to reach 85,000 in 2040, should the city not develop any additional park space, that level of service would drop to 2.82 acres per 1,000 residents. To keep the acreage balance it’s enjoying today, the city would need 185 acres over the next 19 years.

The math isn’t spot-on perfect. Keep in mind, that per capita formula omits Tubbs Hill and its 120 acres, as Tubbs is managed differently than, say, City Park. The council and the Parks Department will look at folding the popular outdoor space into the math. But keep in mind, as well, Coeur d’Alene residents are by no means the only users of Coeur d’Alene’s parks.

“We don’t take into account that all the surrounding areas come and use our parks,” Councilman Woody McEvers said. “… But it’s a big part of what we make here and what our citizens pay for, other people come and use it.”

The citizens would pay about $475,000 per acre for new community park land and roughly $300,000 per acre for neighborhood park land. With three potential community parks being eyed for future development north of Interstate 90, and with eight future neighborhood parks being considered across town, the city is looking at expanding parks as land becomes available.

But some of those costs have already been offset: The Parks Department staff saved the city roughly $200,000 by crafting the plan themselves.

Some of those costs could also be offset by private development, as well. Councilman Dan Gookin, who noted the estimated $88 million price tag for developing 185 acres, said annexing new land and approving new developments can come with stipulations for developers to take one for the city.

“We can ask developers to put in parks,” Gookin said. “I’ve done it before. The one that was up on Ramsey (Road), I was like …' Can they just have a park in there?’ And I remember the argument given was, ‘Oh, there’s a park. It’s a quarter-mile away.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, come on.’ I think we can do a lot more when we do an annexation or we do a development to insist that there be a park, especially if you’re saying we need 185 acres.”

photo

BILL BULEY/Press

A crow flies just off City Park in Coeur d'Alene Tuesday morning.