City OKs extension of streetscape work

SANDPOINT — Bonner County officials have until the end of next year to get started on agreed-upon improvements as part of a deal with the city.

Council members granted one more extension to the county Wednesday night for long-awaited improvements in the area around the sheriff’s office and the new juvenile detention center. Bonner County commissioners have until Dec. 31, 2013, to initiate construction on several different street, sidewalk and landscaping improvements.

The issue has been an ongoing one for throughout the span of several different commissions. Current commissioners Cornel Rasor, Mike Nielsen and Lewis Rich said they intended to address the improvements within recent budget cycles if not for the courthouse renovation costs, a project that quickly escalated in its expenses, sapping their available funds.

Nielsen, the only commissioner to retain his seat next year, attended the meeting to tell council members the improvements would definitely be included in next year’s budget, which will be finalized in October, 2013.

“I want you to know I am sincere when I tell you we’re going to finish this,” he said.

The cost of the 810 feet in improvements will likely total around $80,000 and include additional curbs, gutters, sidewalks and trees. Once everything is completed, the county will be granted a permanent certificate of occupancy for the juvenile detention center. Council members said they hope to see construction begin on the project shortly after county commissioners approve next year’s budget.  

Another source of consternation for council members was the fact that with the two commissioner-elects not yet in office, they only had Nielsen’s word that the matter would be resolved. Nielsen countered that his history in office speaks to his reliability.

“My record shows I am trustworthy in office and I will do what I say I’m going to do,” he said.

Rasor also attended to support the county’s position in the issue, saying he had every confidence that the new commissioners would lend their support.

“They understand the responsibility to finish the job and finish it right,” he said.

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