The River’s Edge development along the Spokane River in Coeur d’Alene has seen its share of opposition, and many of the objections to the development have not been entirely accurate. One issue, however, that we believe is a legitimate concern is that the development, as currently approved by the Coeur d’Alene City Council, does not provide sufficient public access to the Spokane River.
The developers of River’s Edge have concluded that public access is a problem that should be addressed. Accordingly, we have now put forward a proposal that would provide much more expansive access to the public, letting people traverse the Spokane River frontage for the entire length of the development.
What the New Plan Would Do
The current development plan, already approved by the City of Coeur d’Alene, includes 28 single-family dwellings to be built along the Spokane River, with two additional lots created along the river that provide public access. This means that, if the City of Coeur d’Alene does not approve the new proposal, most of the riverfront will be private property, and the public will have access to only about 100 feet of public river frontage, sandwiched in between developed single-family lots.
The current development also establishes a public walking/biking trail through the development, but the trail, as currently designed, runs between the garages of the proposed riverfront homes and apartment parking lots. Under this plan, the public only has access to a narrow trail, and those using this trail would not be able to see the river at all, except between houses or when the trail reaches the two public access lots. Essentially, as it currently stands, the trail would give users a view of cars and garages, and further create a safety hazard, as cars would have to cross the trail at certain points.
Additionally, on the western portion of the lot, the city has approved a storage unit facility, which means part of the trail runs through a commercial business.
As a consequence of this not-so-satisfactory arrangement, River’s Edge is now seeking an adjustment to the current plan, which must be approved by the City Council. The new plan would eliminate the single-family homes altogether, as well as the storage unit facility. Instead, a few additional apartment buildings would replace the storage units and the homes, taking up a narrower portion of the land slated for the homes. More importantly, it would shift the trail to the river side of the entire development, giving the public a 40 foot-wide public access trail and river frontage from one end of the development to the other, and feed directly into the trail that is part of the Atlas Mill development to the east.
Under the new plan, on the western edge of the property, the trail would turn directly south toward the river, and then run along the length of the property. Along the river, there would be a barrier wall to protect the property from flood. The trail would meander above the barrier wall, and establish four designated access points where people can step down to small beach areas directly on the river. In addition to the 40 foot-wide strip, all construction in the development would be set back from the river to a distance of 80 feet, which doubles the current development set-back of 40 feet. This additional set-back has several aesthetic benefits.
First, the development would be less visible from the river. When the trees and other greenery along the path mature, only the roofs of the buildings would be visible. Second, the access trail would be 40 additional feet from any apartment buildings. Trail users would be isolated from apartment tenants, and tenants would not have people looking into their homes. It would also be safer: pedestrians, strollers, and bicycles would not have to worry about cars crossing the path.
A Public Esplanade Along the River
The new plan would provide the public with a truly usable and enjoyable river-front esplanade. The 40-foot wide section means that the relocated trail would not merely provide a path for walking and biking, but would provide areas where people could stop to enjoy the waterfront with family.
The central section of the esplanade, which is accessible not only from the path but from Seltice Way, would include a small amphitheater-style seating area, giving people a place to rest and enjoy the view of the river. There would be ample area for outdoor tables, where a family can bring a picnic lunch to enjoy as they watch the goings-on on the river or while their children play on the beach.
The Spokane River is a tremendous recreational resource, and the developers of River’s Edge believe that that resource is one of the things that makes living in Coeur d’Alene so desirable. An attractive esplanade would enhance the area as a whole, giving both the public and prospective apartment tenants one more reason to call River’s Edge home.
For more information about the proposed changes, you can access maps and details on our website. We welcome your thoughts and input, and, if you are in favor of a riverfront trail, please express your support for the proposal to the Coeur d’Alene City Council.