An eye to the future
COEUR d'ALENE - In 2000, citizens were asked what Coeur d'Alene should focus on as it built for the future, 2020 to be exact.
Almost everything, the survey answers said.
Get busy, they said, on expanding arts and culture, economic vitality, parks and recreation opportunities, housing, public safety, infrastructure ...
A dozen years later Mayor Sandi Bloem reminded citizens of that vision, which the council adopted back then as a road map to the future. Partly to recognize how far the city has come, she said, but also to recognize how much more can be done as the city builds for the future - to 2020 and beyond.
"The first step in setting goals for the city ... is to have a vision," Mayor Sandi Bloem said Tuesday during her State of the City address at The Coeur d'Alene Resort, the annual end of the year speech that summarizes the last 12 months of city affairs, while outlining what lies ahead. "Being successful will depend on our vision, and how we have met the goals outlined by the citizens."
But in 12 years, items have been checked off in impressive fashion, she said.
Awards for police and fire responders - with state-of-the-art advances in both departments, like vest cameras for officers - have made public safety tops in the state. Eight parks added since 2000, not to mention sports complexes and trail systems, like at Canfield and the Prairie Trail, has made Coeur d'Alene the envy for anyone who spends time outdoors. A revitalized downtown, and public and private partnerships have helped spur economic diversity.
"I believe you will realize how far we have come toward the 2020 vision," she said. "And the opportunities we still have."
Opportunities, the city can seize by continuing down that path, she said.
The city is looking at expanding its trail system north, to Athol and possibly Sandpoint. Jobs Plus, the region's economic development agency, helped recruit two companies that will move to Coeur d'Alene soon.
"I wish I could announce it this morning, but I can't," Bloem said, adding they were companies "you will be most proud of."
It was a busy 2012.
Coeur d'Alene received accolades from national publications Forbes, and CNNMoney, employees didn't accept cost of living raises to help balance the budget and the city put in its 56th piece of public art. In 2000, it didn't have one.
Oh, it also broke ground on McEuen Field.
"I realize this project had its controversies, so did the Kroc Center, the education corridor, the library and the downtown revitalization," Bloem said. "Each of these projects strongly fulfilled a community vision established by the citizens in 2000. And I very much believe McEuen will do the same."
The city also saw a polarizing, yet unsuccessful recall election effort and discovered one of its former finance employees stole approximately $365,000 over roughly six years. Events from which the city will learn, she said.
"While the city struggled with the unfortunate incident of embezzlement this year, I want to tell you how proud I am of the staff who quickly took steps to make sure it would not happen again, of the staff who uncovered the wrongdoing to begin with, and a staff that is now sharing with the rest of the state how they can make sure it does not happen to them," Bloem told the hundreds in attendance. "This incredible amount of extra time and effort to bring this unfortunate incident to a close is to be commended."
She closed her speech with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson about remembering to think big, as the city looks back on what it has achieved and at what lies ahead.
"Vision prepares us to see," she said. "We have a vision. We are prepared to see. We have surfaced and we have built a place we can be proud of. We need to continue to see, all of us, and to know the vision and to set our goals to meet that vision."