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Cd'A City Council OKs parking rental

by Tom Hasslinger
| June 16, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Better make it a Hamilton.

Commuters looking to park their cars downtown during the Fourth of July celebration will have to pay $10 for the all-day parking instead of the usual $5.

The city of Coeur d'Alene agreed Tuesday to lease five of its downtown lots to the Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce to help the chamber raise money for the roughly $30,000 firework show, which has seen declining donations this year.

"I think it's important to recognize the value the firework show brings to the community," said Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander. "It's fair to ask everyone to contribute."

Not everyone, but those who choose to park in the city's downtown lots.

Those lots comprise roughly 800 spots between the Third Street, Independence Point, Museum of North Idaho and Memorial Field lots as well as the 53-space lot at Fourth Street and Coeur d'Alene Avenue.

So far, the chamber has raised $11,000 for the donation-driven show. Without the agreement, it would have likely had to scale back the 20-minute spectacle.

The show should go on, the City Council said, and while raising prices on anything during down economic times is tough to do, it's a reasonable way for people to chip in for an event they come to see.

"If everyone who watches the parade just gave a dollar, or 50 cents, this wouldn't have to happen," said Councilman Ron Edinger.

The city expects up to 35,000 people to visit town for the parade, events in City Park, and the nightcap explosions.

Other areas have cut out their programs, so even more people could come to town for the show, the City Council said. The increase would largely affect out-of-towners more than locals as out-of-state license plates seem to fill the lots come the Fourth.

It's the first time the city has leased its lots to an outside agency which is going to charge more while running the same service. The chamber hopes to raise an extra $8,000 from the lease agreement. It's paying the city $7,000 for the deal - the average amount the city pocketed from $5 parking sales on Independence Day over the last three years.

City Councilman Woody McEvers agreed to the lease, but said it could set a dangerous example for other agencies hosting special events in Coeur d'Alene.

Not supporting the same proposal next year shouldn't be viewed as unpatriotic either, he said.

"Hopefully you guys don't get greedy," he said of the chamber making the agreement an annual pitch.

Independence Day is on a Sunday, so the downtown's roughly 3,100 off-street spaces will be free all day long for those lucky enough to get one. That includes around 800 spots along Sherman Avenue once the parade ends.

But for those who use the lots this year, Abe Lincoln's bill won't suffice by itself, so reach for Alexander Hamilton's.

And enjoy the show.

"It's an opportunity for us to honor and remember our sons and daughters and family members who will be fighting for our freedom at the very moment we leisurely watch those fireworks," said Debbie Berger, fireworks fundraising coordinator, adding that the fundraising is still ongoing to fill the rest of the gap left even after the lease agreement. "Should we minimize their contribution and reduce the amount we spend on the fireworks?"

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