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Pandemic hits Cd’A parking revenue

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | May 14, 2020 1:00 AM

The city of Coeur d’Alene released data Tuesday night that shows a dramatic decrease in revenue from its parking lots, numbers that reflect what is believed to be our first objective look at the economic damage the coronavirus is leaving behind.

Parking revenue across city lots for April was in sharp decline compared to April 2019, a result of a statewide stay-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city collected $17,056 from its main lots in April, compared to $33,140 — or 51.7 percent — from the same time period last year.

Shops and restaurants were closed after March 25 as part of Governor Brad Little’s stay-home order in the wake of the pandemic that has infected 4.4 million worldwide, killing more than 296,000. Amenities within parks — such as playgrounds and skate courses — remain closed until at least May 16, though pickleballers and skaters have been spotted at those facilities in violation of Little’s order.

“People weren’t coming to the parks,” city administrator Troy Tymensen said. “Simple as that.”

When asked if the 48-percent drop was indicative of Coeur d’Alene’s economic health in April overall, Tymesen said the are a harbinger of economic reports to come.

“It’s probably a decent metric,” Tymesen said, “but it doesn’t tell the whole story.”

McEuen Park took home the lion’s share of revenue with $12,560 — down from $20,218 in April 2019. Independence Point brought in only $3,479 last month, a third of the $9,693 from April last year. The museum parking lot also brought in only $540, compared to $1,286 the year before.

“This will be reflective of what our business community saw [in April],” Tymesen said. “A portion of this was tied to fewer employees coming to work, not having to park.”

The boat launch and mooring actually kept pace with last year, bringing in a combined $402 in revenue, compared to April 2019’s $390. Tymesen jokingly cheered the only good news the report produced, meager as it was.

“Hey, people had time on their hands,” he observed. “Maybe they thought, ‘We might as well take the boat out for a spin.’”

From a percentage standpoint, the hardest-hit lot was Memorial Park’s, which brought in only $75 in revenue, a sliver of last April’s $1,553.

The data was originally going to be included in a since-cancelled Parking Commission meeting originally scheduled for May 12. Coeur d’Alene’s April revenue this year was the lowest since 2014, before McEuen’s parking garage officially opened.

While the numbers were —save the docks and mooring — dour across the board, Tymesen said he did see some positive trends in Coeur d’Alene.

“April was a tough month,” he said, “a real challenge. But things are coming back. We’re seeing more traffic on the roads, as measured by the Idaho Department of Transportation. The Office of Emergency Management has pretty much been eliminated, which is a good sign. We’ve had zero deaths [from COVID-19]. I’m thrilled to be a citizen in this community.”

Mayor Steve Widmyer said Coeur d’Alene has a long economic road ahead of it, but that he remains optimistic about the future.

“COVID has negatively impacted everyone in our community,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work to restore our economy. I’m confident that our citizens will meet that challenge.”

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