Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Ponderay building bright future for city

by STEVE GEIGER / Ponderay Mayor
| April 25, 2024 1:00 AM

Our area has seen a lot of growth and pressure lately, and as a result, we have been using the local option tax dollars for a range of projects. 

This year marks the fifth and final year of this round of the local option tax. Last year, we began construction on four full-sized artificial turf soccer fields, complete with bathrooms and concession areas. The fields are going to be enclosed by fences and equipped with proper lighting. Additionally, there will be gravel parking areas available for visitors to use. We aim to complete all of this by mid to late summer.

We've also made progress on our Lakeshore Connection project, which the city received a $1.4 million grant a few years ago. This project will connect our city to the shoreline and located behind the Hoot Owl, where we host our Annual Ponderay Neighbor Day event. We are moving forward with constructing the soccer fields at Field of Dreams and acquired the shoreline properties in our city. All of these projects have been made possible thanks to the support of our community and the local option tax dollars.

It's important to note that the city of Ponderay is the commercial engine of Bonner County. Our city produces more jobs and revenue than the entire county combined. Ponderay alone contributes over $24 million in sales tax revenue for our state every year. However, despite our city’s significant contribution, we only receive a little over $165,000 back from the state annually due to our small population size. This means that while our city generates over $65,000 every day for the state, all of our hard work and effort only receives $450 a day. Considering the high level of commercial activity within our city, we require a police department that costs more than $2,500 per day to operate efficiently. How does that make you feel?

Our city is currently engaged in a project aimed at restoring the Black Rock area to a safe and clean state. The work is being carried out with the aid of a Brownfield Multipurpose grant that was awarded to the city in 2019. The project is expected to continue throughout this year and should be completed within the next year or two.

Last year, our city purchased a 4-acre parcel across from the Bonner County EMS station on Kootenai Cutoff Road. The acquisition is part of the city's long-term plan to establish a police department and possibly a fire department location.

The city of Ponderay has been fortunate to secure some grants for road and pathway projects. One of them is a $2 million Strategic Initiatives grant for improvements on McNearney Road, which leads directly to the Field of Dreams. The project is expected to get underway this summer.

We have been working with North Idaho Ice to bring an ice rink to our community; these folks have been very helpful in making this dream a reality. With their help and dedication, we plan to have an outdoor community ice rink located on the 4-acre Kootenai Cutoff Road property, which we’re looking to have up and running for about nine weeks.

Our city is facing challenging times. I've been hearing from many folks about how fast our area is changing, and unfortunately, they are not happy about it. As elected officials, it's crucial for us to know what our community is thinking. The most effective way for you to express your opinion is by attending a meeting and sharing your thoughts with us. However, the biggest problem we face is a lack of participation from residents. We have gone many months without a single resident showing up to voice their opinions or concerns.

I have to say, it has been an amazing experience serving as the mayor of our city. We are fortunate to have some incredible people who take care of us, including the staff at City Hall, Planning and Zoning, and the police department. They are all true professionals who deeply care about our city and are always available to help and assist with any of your needs.