City: Group can camp at beach - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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City: Group can camp at beach

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Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2012 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — The City Council has cleared the way for a large group of bike riders to camp at City Beach this summer.

In a visit that should have good implications for downtown businesses, the Ride Idaho group plans to visit Sandpoint in August. However, participants’ plans to camp at City Beach for the duration of their visit were frustrated by the city’s ordinance prohibiting camping in public parks. Those concerns will no longer be an issue after the council passed an ordinance allowing an exception for the group.

Businessman Mel Dick attended the Dec. 19 council meeting to throw his support behind the endeavor. Beyond his own interests as a business owner, Dick also spoke as a representative of the recently-formed Sandpoint Restaurant and Bar Association, saying that the group looked forward to the increased revenue from Ride Idaho’s visit. According to Dick, past interaction with the group, usually about 400 in number, have been very positive, with the visitors displaying respect and courtesy.

“I’ve spoken with a number of restaurant owners and bar owners, and they are in favor of this,” he said.   

Dick added that business owners in the downtown area experienced a nice bump in revenue when Ride Idaho visited a couple years ago. He expects that riders and support trucks will arrive on a Sunday, camp Sunday night and Monday night and be gone by Tuesday morning. The bicyclists will likely  spend a good portion of at least one day in town shopping and patronizing restaurants.

Representatives of the group took up their case with Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff, who in turn brought the matter before the council in November. The council tabled the matter until feedback from the group’s leaders could be obtained. Upon revisiting the matter in December, council members debated whether or not it was appropriate to approve an ordinance for such a specific purpose.

“I think the idea of making a little, brief ordinance to cover two days is absolutely ridiculous,” Councilwoman Carrie Logan said.

Logan followed up by saying there were other places the riders could camp that wouldn’t require an occupation of City Beach. She also pointed out that according to data presented by Councilwoman Jamie Brunner at the November meeting, Sandpoint residents only had on average about eight weekends to enjoy the beach in optimal conditions. Given that small window of opportunity, she felt it was unfair to residents to have hundreds using the site as a campground.

However, most council members agreed that it was in the city’s best interest to facilitate the potential for an increase in downtown business while showing off Sandpoint’s virtues to potentially hundreds of newcomers. Moreover, the decision had some precedent, since the council granted a similar allowance to the group in 2010.

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  • Todd Allen posted at 10:29 am on Tue, Jan 1, 2013.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    HWIS I was not aware the City gave away the property for so cheap, but I take your word for it. What a shame, it is an eye sore, and I agree we could of had a much better community facility.

  • Corey Greve posted at 11:12 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 923

    I agree. In hindsight, the property where the Prisons at Sandpoint were built would have been much better as a municipal campground, but that is water over the bridge now.

  • Here's What I Say posted at 10:08 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    The Lions Club and taxpayers built the City Beach. We have the least access to it though. We could have had a beautiful park and camping facility right where the Season's sits. But the city sold it's rights for that property for a song.

  • whinewhinewhine posted at 1:55 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    whinewhinewhine Posts: 80

    Sounds like a group jumping through hoops that forces them to be responsible. Is it money talking? Sounds not too far off from having to pull a permit to host an event. Sounds responsible. Attach a "permit" fee for the city. They will be using resources. Respectful and responsible groups should be welcomed by the city.

  • Corey Greve posted at 5:46 pm on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 923

    If other groups want to apply, and meet the requisite standards that have been set, then by all means they should be allowed to do the same.

  • wilson posted at 3:27 pm on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1076

    Corey is right - Any group with the same qualifications, history , respect and guarantees hopefully WILL apply to use City facilities. The more the better. The standard has been set high, and this only makes good business sense. Most everyone understands that not all are treated equally, because circumstances are not equal for all- That is Life!

  • LakeViewer posted at 11:48 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    LakeViewer Posts: 919

    The smell of money. What our society is all about these days.

  • SugarShane posted at 11:36 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    The issue Corey is that we are making a special exception to the rule for one group and that disenfranchises the rest of the populace. The argument is made often in cases of things that are political like gay marriage as in "if you allow gays to marry what's next, animals? Bigamy? . Equal protection under the law and all that jazz....

    You can't say yes to one group then turn down others or make it impossible for some groups to have the same access which is what they have done. I think it will be great for business and I used to work at most of the downtown restaurants, but I don't think it's fair to make a special exception unless you are going to open that door to EVERY group that applies.

  • Corey Greve posted at 9:55 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 923

    I don't see the issue here. They are a group of 400 bicyclists, that have done the exact same thing before with no ill effects. It will be on a Sunday and Monday night, which is a time with little tourist traffic and slow times for our restaurants and bars. They have proven themselves to be responsible and courteous, and they spend money in our town with little negative impact.

    Bring 'em on. And if we can do more to attract other such uses, let's do that,too.

  • Corey Greve posted at 9:52 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Corey Greve Posts: 923

    Hobo's? Really? You must be joking.

  • Jason Smith posted at 6:30 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Jason Smith Posts: 67

    How much shopping will be done by bicyclist, where do they put it all? Why not generate money for the hotels and make them pay like all others? I suggest free camping for Lost In The 50's at the beach, free camping at Memorial Field during the festival, and then suggest a stupid thought like pay Diamond parking to shop downtown. Yet a box city at the city beach to bring light to the homeless in Bonner County is not brought to light. Are the council members thought process even working? Did the ordinance state no BBQ's that day to insure that money will be spent at resturants?

  • royfromillinois posted at 5:12 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    royfromillinois Posts: 2

    Great! a bunch of hobo's on the beach. What a slippery slope.....

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 1:46 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    I attended the council meeting where this particular event was being discussed. There were council members that had some concerns about this group and the event in question. I believe that this group has been here before. Do we only allow certain groups with the financial ability to insure themselves or should the city allow any law abiding group the ability to take a certain portion of city beach for an over night event??? Why should money talk so loud??

    I do agree about one thing, the local restaurant owners probably want this group. I was part of a conversation about a week ago with local residents and the topic of eating out came up. Most of the group had not eaten out in about 4 weeks due to economic concerns and the high cost of dining out these days.

    All in all, I agree with the decision made by the council.

  • Seeker posted at 1:16 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    Seeker Posts: 101

    Follow the money.

  • Misunderestimated posted at 12:28 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    Misunderestimated Posts: 47

    If you read the ordinance, it's good just for this summer season, not just for this one group, and is for nonprofit type groups willing to get insurance and jump through a list of requirements to protect the city and avoid disturbing the regular beach users as much as possible. It's not designed for family reunions.

  • SugarShane posted at 12:05 pm on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    SugarShane Posts: 200

    While not really against it, it seems like pandering to special interests. We want the money! Cried the business owners. Will other groups be given similar passes? What if I want to have a family reunion and not pay for hotels? Can I apply to have the whole clan camp down at the beach too or is this just for people with a ton of money to blow?

  • wilson posted at 11:22 am on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    wilson Posts: 1076

    I wonder if 2 days in August will be enough to sustain downtown businesses? Council had better rescind this contract or face the consequences. What were they thinking?

  • Jigger posted at 10:28 am on Thu, Dec 27, 2012.

    Jigger Posts: 149

    Council made the right decision,they have to find someone who will go downtown even if they are on a bike ,as motorists will be avoiding it once Diamond. parking takes over , especially when they don't have to worry about City Beach. Parking.