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Cd’A parking revenue shows virus’s impact

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | May 15, 2020 1:10 AM

The city of Coeur d’Alene released data this week that shows a dramatic decrease in revenue from its parking lots, numbers that reflect direct economic damage from the coronavirus.

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 from the same time period last year.

Shops and restaurants were closed after March 25 as part of Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order in the wake of the pandemic. Amenities within parks — such as playgrounds and skate courses — remain closed until at least Saturday, 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 it’s 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 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.

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 Transportation Department. 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 he remains optimistic.

“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.”