So, the grand plans for McEuen Park will be rolled out to the public at a meeting at North Idaho College Thursday evening (Student Union Building, Coeur d’Alene Room, 6pm). We will be acutely interested to see how the plans will be received.
The controversial proposal eliminates most of the surface parking area and boat launch, eliminates the ball fields, and may be expensive to build and maintain. But the proposal has some striking design features and makes the park much more functional and user-friendly. Indeed, based on our preliminary review of sketches on Team McEuen’s website, there’s much to like, there’s much that could be better, and there’s a lot to be to be concerned about too.
For example, on the one hand, we are quite glad to see the proposal largely eliminates the ugly and wasteful surface parking lot. On the other hand, the replacement underground parking seems to be significantly over-supplied and it will be expensive to implement. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and better for both the park and downtown businesses to relocate the lost parking into some of the other vacant land around downtown? Wouldn’t that create more opportunities for redevelopment and foot-traffic in downtown?
We are also very concerned with the impacts on Tubbs Hill. There are a number of features that encroach upon the natural integrity of Coeur d’Alene’s significant and fiercely-protected natural landmark. Although we agree that McEuen Park could use a serious facelift, Tubbs Hill needs no enhancement and should be left alone. Rather than the design team attempting to accommodate the Park by expanding features into Tubbs Hill, we think Tubbs Hill’s clear natural boundaries should be accommodated by the Park’s design.
At the moment, we’re mostly agnostic about the boat ramp and the ball fields. One of the guiding principles of the design, supposedly, is that any amenities removed from McEuen will be relocated elsewhere to be at least as good or better. We’re open to what they will suggest. And we’re agnostic as to some of the more elaborate design flourishes. We think much will depend on how much the new park will cost to build and maintain. The burden of persuasion clearly belongs to Team McEuen, but we are hoping to be persuaded.
With a lot of people with a lot of interest in a lot of topics related to the re-design, Team McEuen will be challenged to provide for public input opportunities that the public will demand. The web page is nice, and the facebook page is engaging, but some formalized process, we think, will be necessary. We’d also like to see some supporting narrative accompanying the proposal, and some images large enough to more fully understand the details.
At this point, we look forward to the discussion. See you there Thursday night?