SANDPOINT — Idaho Transportation Department personnel may have local student Beth Lewis to thank for much of the Curve meeting attendance this afternoon.
On Sunday, the 17-year-old Sandpoint High School senior posted a picture and message on Facebook expressing concern over the impact the U.S. 2 extension would have on popular local restaurant Dub’s. The post concluded with a call for residents to attend a public forum hosted by ITD to collect opinions regarding the project, which will take place today at the Panhandle State Bank community room from 3-6 p.m.
The Facebook outreach proved unexpectedly popular. As of Wednesday afternoon, it received 118 “likes” and shared 130 times.
“I was definitely surprised,” Lewis said. “I didn’t necessarily think it would get that kind of publicity.”
However, Lewis finds it perfectly reasonable that people would be motivated to act in the defense of Dub’s. The local burger and ice cream joint has become a Sandpoint staple with more than 50 years of history in the town. It’s both a frequent employer and popular hang out for local students and has worked into the fiber of the community with its long history and a menu full of local flavor, Lewis said.
“It’s an important Sandpoint icon and something I want to protect,” she added. “I want to come back here when I have kids and tell them I used to sit right here when I was in school.”
Lewis became involved in the conversation over the Curve after listening to the discussions her parents were having regarding the project. She then set about conducting research on the matter and investigating the plans posted by city officials.
“It was my mom that really got me talking about it,” she said. “We thought that maybe a Facebook post might help make people aware of the issues.”
The actual impact that the Curve construction will have on Dub’s is still unclear. ITD officials have yet to choose an official design for the project — in fact, the purpose of today’s meeting is largely to gauge what residents would prefer. Several different plans are available to view on the city’s website, and judging by the Curve’s proximity to Dub’s in each concept, it could leave the restaurant relatively unaffected, cut into its parking or, in one case, occupy the building’s space completely.
Local public officials are pleased by the fact that the meeting has caught the attention of the public, given that their goal is to collect as much feedback as possible.
Public Works Director Kody Van Dyk encouraged residents to show up and share their mind regardless of whether they come to speak for Dub’s or for something else.