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Hayden pitches in for Honeysuckle Beach safety

Staff Writer | September 25, 2021 1:00 AM

HAYDEN — Unused impact fee revenue finally has a purpose — building a permanent marine facility for the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office at Honeysuckle Beach.

In the early 2010s, Hayden city officials adopted a development impact fee program to finance projects.

According to city documents, Hayden had collected a public safety impact fee for "acquisition and construction of a Kootenai County Sheriff Hayden Substation office."

Following a 2016 impact fee study, plans changed, and the funding collected from developers sat in savings until the city defined a specific project.

"Over the last few years, we had looked at the possibility of partnering with the county on some form of public safety facility," City Administrator Brett Boyer said Friday. "We were meeting on Honeysuckle Beach, and as we looked at the area, the county mentioned they were searching for a permanent place to park their boat on the lake."

Revenue pulled from impact fees has to be used for capital projects, Boyer said. The city is sitting on about $60,000.

During the fiscal year 2022 budget process, city staff suggested helping pay for deputy presence at Honeysuckle Beach.

In recent years, Honeysuckle Beach has become a popular destination for families and waterway recreation, Sheriff Bob Norris said Friday. In tow is a rising number of calls for service.

"The Honeysuckle Beach area and launch have one of the highest call volumes in the city of Hayden," Norris said.

Those calls include parking problems, suspicious activity, drownings, and other services that are "significant in nature," he said.

On summer weekends, Norris has seen lines of boats and trucks flowing halfway down streets surrounding the recreation area. Having to navigate that traffic can delay deputies getting to the launch, he said.

KCSO Recreation Safety Sgt. Ryan Miller said team response could be 20 minutes or more without a permanent facility at Honeysuckle Beach, depending upon available resources. Miller said Hayden Lake received the third-highest number of calls this summer but was staffed far less than Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Spokane River — the top two call areas.

Having a dedicated area for KCSO deputies would open doors for getting permanent staff and equipment at Honeysuckle Beach, Miller said.

"If we already had a boat on the water, our response time would reduce greatly," Miller said. "We could jump in the boat and go, and it would aid any citizen in an emergency."

For decades, the city and KCSO have contracted for additional law enforcement services. Norris said the approximately $60,000 in impact fees toward Honeysuckle Beach will be "a great benefit for the users of Hayden and residents who live and play near the lake."

Mayor Steve Griffitts said credit goes all around.

"We are grateful to be able to use impact fees to partner with the sheriff to improve services to the citizens of Hayden," he said. "All parties worked hard to move this forward."