The most controversial aspects of the McEuen Field renovation have been eliminated, but the issue continues to rage in Coeur d’Alene. The Third Street boat launch will remain (for now), and the price tag for the waterfront park’s overhaul has been reduced from a maximum of $40 million to about $14 million. The design now includes an amphitheater, a playground, a splash pad and new parking spaces, among other features.
But critics aren’t satisfied. Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and three City Council members backing renovations to McEuen are now the subject of a recall attempt. We called Bloem for her thoughts.
INLANDER: Did you ever expect this McEuen Field plan to generate this much controversy?
No. I expected it to draw a lot of attention and a lot of debate, but I didn’t expect it to draw the controversy and the degree of anger. … There were untruths and things said about the plan that never really were on the plate or would have happened. It seemed like we were always behind the 8-ball trying to figure out how to get the message across on what the plan really was instead of what people said it was.
Do you feel the recall is about the McEuen Field issue, or do you see something deeper?
I just think it’s kind of a statement of where we are, unfortunately. Unfortunately, there’s a whole country that seems to be revolving around anger. … I have regrets that we are in the process of a recall, because I don’t think it’s healthy for the community. It’s even more divisive, it’s very personal.
The three council members elected last fall all support a public vote on the plan. Since this issue has become so divisive, why oppose the public vote?
I didn’t support the public vote because I could not see any way that we can do great planning for the best public space the city owns through a public vote. … I didn’t feel it would give us any more information. We’ve been accused of not listening to the public. We’ve been to more than 50 meetings. We did listen. We did hear them. We didn’t agree with everything we heard, from all sides. This park isn’t going to be exactly what anyone wants, or we wouldn’t be doing our job.