Council preview

City to take up development impact fee study, increase contract for Travers playground and discuss policy limiting remote testimony

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

While the agenda for the Wednesday, July 3 meeting of the Sandpoint City Council contains no new business, it does feature a number of items related to high-profile projects and issues ranging from the city’s development impact fees to the recent policy all but eliminating public comment delivered via Zoom.

First, the Better Together Animal Alliance will provide a presentation on its 2024-’25 contract and costs associated with housing stray animals in its service area. BTAA Executive Director Mandy Evans went before the Ponderay City Council on July 1 to make a similar presentation, during which she lobbied for more municipal funding to effectively provide animal control services. 

Staff will later provide a report on the city’s development impact study, which is entering its beginning phase with fiscal, economic and planning consultant firm TischlerBise Inc. hired to gather the data necessary to assess the current collection of development impact fees and provide recommendations on improving the system.

Photo by Ben Olson.

Development impact fees are defined by the city as “one-time payments used to construct system improvements needed to accommodate new development. An impact fee represents new growth’s fair share of capital facility needs.”

The last time Sandpoint conducted a study of its impact fees and adopted a fee structure was in 2011.

According to the staff report, the preparation of an updated development impact fee study will cost $76,790, paid to TischlerBise, with a draft study slated for presentation by February 2025.

Councilors will also consider a change order with Ginno Construction related to the playground and splash pad project at Travers Park.

According to the staff report, the change order is for $106,000 added to the original contract amount of $881,000, bringing the new total to $987,000.

Specifically, the city is considering whether to spend an additional $70,000 on an alternative reusable water system for the splash pad, which would store and filter greywater for reuse in irrigating the landscaping.

The change order states that the recirculating system originally included in the design “would result in significant staff maintenance and added costs,” leading Mayor Jeremy Grimm to direct project coordinators to include the new irrigation booster pump.

In addition, the contract change includes a total of $15,000 for construction of an asphalt pathway and berm featuring a plaza — as well as installation of outdoor music equipment — in order to provide “an optional ‘natural play area,’” according to the staff report.

Related to the “north hill-berm landscape feature,” as it’s described in city documents, will be installation of an ADA accessible slide, a boulder retaining feature and a concrete curb with engineered wood fiber safety surfacing to frame the “nature play area.” Those components of the project will cost an additional $21,000.

Overall, the original playground and splash pad project budget came to just more than $1.1 million, but with the addition of $192,706 in park funds, the new budget comes in at just more than $1.3 million.

Finally, Councilors Pam Duquette and Kyle Schreiber have placed an item on the agenda to reopen the discussion about limiting public testimony on Zoom. According to the agenda request form, it will be a “Chance for councilors to be afforded a respectful discussion opportunity after mayor’s decision. Recent campaign platforms promoted improved public engagement opportunities, not limited ones.”

Grimm announced the new policy at the beginning of June, saying that testimony would not be taken via Zoom at council meetings without prior arrangements. He said the move was intended to “encourage predominantly local participation” in person at meetings, as well as stop disruptive incidents of inappropriate, threatening or otherwise derogatory remarks. Twice since November, individuals have registered to speak on Zoom, then launched into racist, homophobic and antisemitic speech before being cut off for violating the city’s decorum policy. The most recent such incident occurred on May 13.

“I’m not dealing with that kind of stuff anymore,” Grimm said at the June 5 meeting.

However, the policy has spurred some pushback, including from Council President Deb Ruehle, who expressed frustration that the policy hadn’t first been discussed with members of the council. Others, including Planning and Zoning Commissioner Amelia Boyd, have testified that limiting remote testimony runs counter to the city’s goal of being accessible to citizens.

View the full council agenda and supporting materials at the city’s new online information portal at

Recordings of Sandpoint City Council meetings are posted to the city’s YouTube channel, and meetings can be viewed live on Zoom at the city’s website. 

Submit comments in writing by emailing [email protected] or delivering to City Hall at 1123 Lake St. Public comment is also accepted in person at council meetings, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contact the city clerk with questions or requests for special accommodations, either by email or calling 208-263-3310. The city makes listening devices available in chambers.

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.