Health Corridor still looking for public input

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Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Last week’s Visioning Workshop was the public’s first opportunity to contribute to the future of Coeur d’Alene’s Health Corridor, but organizers stress it is certainly not the last.

During Wednesday’s ignite cda meeting, the board was presented with the layout of the planning stages for the project, where the public was told the Health Corridor is largely in their hands.

“We wanted to gather information and listen to the community and their thoughts,” said Ben Weymouth, project manager for TO Engineers, consultants on the revitalization effort. “We’re going into this with no preconceived ideas, and we’re still looking to gather additional input.”

The Health Corridor is a proposed district that stretches from Interstate 90 to the north, Government Way to the east, Davidson Avenue to the south and Northwest Boulevard to the west, encompassing 175 acres plotted to enhance the area’s medical services.

“Kootenai Health is obviously the anchor of the area,” Weymouth said. “A lot wouldn’t be there without the hospital there.”

Weymouth reported that not only was the June 13 Visioning Workshop a success, but that other interviews proved equally beneficial.

“We had 29 interviews with different stakeholders, developers, business owners, people who live in the neighhborhood, community leaders, EMS providers and utility companies,” Weymouth said. “It was a pretty broad list of people, and we sat down with all of them. We’re still conducting these interviews.”

In addition, 33 attendees gave feedback during the workshop. Consultants are currently summarizing the event’s survey results.

While the next public event — the Design Workshop — runs July 8, 9 and 10, citizens are still encouraged to give their input via an online survey. Participants have until June 28 to submit their suggestions.

Furthermore, between now and then, consultants will conduct door-to-door interviews with residents in the area. They also plan to establish a booth in the area and conduct spontaneous pop-up meetings with concerned citizens. That feedback will then be factored into the input for the July Design Workshop.

Weymouth said he’s come across surprising challenges during the process.

“There are some obvious challenges,” Weymouth admitted, “one of which is just how often you see a ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Lease’ sign in that area. I counted from [U.S.] 95 to Ironwood, there are 12 ‘For Sale’ signs, not counting the multiple signs on one property. Personally, I’m not familiar with seeing that kind of frequency, so we’re looking at that a little bit more.”

The primary theme Weymouth said citizens reiterate when discussing the Health Corridor is nearly universal.

“Traffic,” he said. “Traffic comes out of their mouths immediately. It’s the first thing anyone ever says when you ask them their impression of the Health Corridor, and that is largely a result of the fact there aren’t many ways in and out of there. And the ways that are there are not easy to understand.”

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