City debates former inn site’s status

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SANDPOINT — The status of a property acquired during byway negotiations is currently under discussion among city staff and officials.

At a Dec. 19 meeting, council members voted to rescind a decision approved on the Dec. 5 council agenda’s consent calendar concerning the legal status of the old Lakeside Inn property.

Council members approved the Parks and Recreation Commission’s suggestion that the property be renamed Sand Creek Park and reclassified as a park at the earlier December meeting. However, council members are reconsidering that decision given the fact that as a park, any revenues the property generates, including parking fees, would go into the park improvement fund.

Councilwoman Carrie Logan reasoned that since park maintenance and operation is paid through the general fund, some of the property revenue should be moving that direction.   

Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff suggested a possible solution by adding to the original ordinance defining park revenue usage.

By specifying that all parking dollars regardless of the property in question go into the general fund, some money would return to the general fund while other revenues would fund significant park improvements planned for the future.

“In ADA fixes alone, I’m looking at over a million bucks,” Woodruff said. “I’m looking at some major improvements, and we have over 100 acres in park land. “I would prefer to look at operations and cut there than change the way we have this set up, because long-term, it will be the death knell of this fund.”

However, Logan worried that that approach would become unbalanced as investments made in park improvements began to pay off.

Council members determined not to make a decision on the structure of revenue distribution until city staff could take a closer look at the situation.

The property was acquired in 2007 when Idaho Transportation Department transferred its control to the city in exchange for their services in maintaining the Byway’s landscaping, pathways and other infrastructure.

It now stands to add a significant amount of parking to the downtown core in addition to providing other recreational activities.

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