Mayor’s Roundtable: Fire, art, golf and thanks

By Mayor Shelby Rognstad
Reader Contributor

There is a lot to discuss this week at the Roundtable. I will touch on some highlights here and I welcome readers to come join me to dive deeper into any of these topics this Friday, 8 a.m. at Cedar St. Bistro.

Mayor Shelby Rognstad.

I’m sure no one missed the news of the completion of the state fire marshal’s investigation into the cause of the Bridge St. fire. As was reported in the Bee last Saturday, the location of the fire’s genesis was identified. While the majority of the corner building was removed, private investigators are still examining the remaining structure to the north, where China Kitchen was located. The remaining demolition will occur as soon as all investigations are complete. Safety measures will then be taken to ensure that Bridge Street is safe for traffic and a decorative wall depicting Sandpoint’s history will hide the demolition through the summer, thanks to a generous grant of $7500 from BNSF Railways.

The fire has had a huge impact on those whose businesses were destroyed and their employees. It has also impacted downtown business as a whole. The amount of support from the community for those affected has been incredible.

The city will do everything that it can to clean up downtown as quickly as possible and ensure that it is functional, accessible and inviting for residents and visitors. We will also continue to do everything that we can to ensure that impacts from street and sidewalk construction this year are minimized to the greatest extent possible. Myself and city staff will continue to reach out to the downtown business community throughout the year to invite your suggestions as to how we can improve the downtown experience for residents, employees and tourists.

The city is kicking off its first ever Arts and Culture Master Plan. As stated in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Sandpoint “places a high value on attracting, encouraging and developing arts and culture. It aspires to be one of the best small arts towns by encouraging local artists, preserving cultural heritage, nurturing creativity, inspiring original expression, and cultivating art appreciation.”

By creating a strategic vision for public art and cultural programming, we enhance our community’s sense of identity, celebrate our heritage, energize public spaces and stimulate commerce and investment by attracting visitors and job creators to the area.

This plan will feed into our Parks and Recreation Master Plan which is now underway. The city has selected Greenplay, LLC, as the consultant to lead us through the planning process. The first stakeholder meeting is May 1. If you or someone you know would like to serve on the stakeholder committee, please contact my executive assistant, Carolbelle (208-265-1481) for more details. There will be many opportunities for the general public to participate in the near future including an online survey and public forums that will be scheduled in the coming months.

I have spoken to many of you regarding the future of the Baldfoot Disc Golf Course. I’m pleased to report the city has extended the Eureka Institute license through April 20 of 2020. The Disc Golf Association is paying the interest on the loan for the property. This is fair to utility rate payers, who purchased the property and will not have to pick up the tab. This is a win for golfers who can continue playing on this beautiful course and to rate payers who are concerned about the cost of utility bills.

Lastly, I want to thank Maree Peck, Scot Campbell and Darlene Edwards (our retired clerk, city attorney and public works administrator, respectively) for their years of service to the City. I welcome our new team members: Carolbelle Branch, the executive assistant; Linda Hiess, our new grants administrator and Bela Kovacs, our procurement and contracts officer. These talented people will be excellent additions to our team. Organizational restructuring has allowed us to fill the vacancies created by retirements and create two new positions with less impact on the budget.

Please join me at the Mayor’s Roundtable this Friday, April 19, from 8-9 a.m. at the Cedar Street Bistro in the Cedar Street Bridge. Mayor’s Roundtable has changed times to the third Friday of the month to give more citizens the opportunity to participate. I hope to see you there.

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