PSNI begins planning for future expansion

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Panhandle Special Needs, Inc. has been given notice by the city that its lease will not be renewed when it expires 2033, and will then be required to move from its current location at 1424 N. Boyer Ave. in Sandpoint. 

An overhead view of the future expansion connecting Baldy Road from North Boyer Ave. to Highway 2. Courtesy photo.

That might seem like a long ways out, but PSNI (pronounced PIZ-knee) has been at that site since 1975 — renting from a private individual who holds the lease with the city — and PSNI Executive Director Trinity Nicholson said it will take between five and seven years to relocate the numerous parts and pieces of the nonprofit. PSNI serves more than 200 people with disabilities in Bonner and Boundary counties each year through The Cottage thrift store; PSNI greenhouse; and classrooms, workshops, business services and day health facilities for adults with developmentally delayed challenges.

“The city let us know last year that the lease on this property would not be renewed to allow us time to relocate,” Nicholson told the Reader in an email. “Sadly we can’t take our building with us so it will likely be demolished.” 

Nicholson told the Reader that the city has “other plans for this property, which seems to include putting a road through this area so that traffic does not get stuck between the tracks,” as well as extending Baldy Mountain Road to connect to Highway 2 to the east. The entire property measures 11.7 acres and includes a number of other structures, many of them dating back to its former site as a lumber mill.

Sandpoint Mayor Jeremy Grimm confirmed that the city provided notice to PSNI last year that its lease would terminate in 2033, and provided the Reader with a concept from the adopted Multimodal Transportation Plan that envisions a two-way road extension from the signal at North Boyer and Baldy Mt. Road running southeast through the property to an undercrossing beneath the Union Pacific railroad line and ending with a new “high-T” intersection on Highway 2 north of the Chamber of Commerce building.

“I expect that the future development of the site will involve a robust public discussion including the possibility of relocating the City Street’s shop to this area,” Grimm told the Reader in an email.

Assuming PSNI is able to relocate within the preferred five- to seven-year timeframe, it could rent the existing building for a time to help with costs, which are substantial.

To get a jump on those expenses and help ensure PSNI continues into the future, the estate of recently deceased Phyllis Thurlow and other supporters pitched in to raise the funds necessary to purchase the property across the street at 1407 N. Boyer Ave. 

“At this point, it is primarily undeveloped land,” Nicholson stated in a news release. “But, once completed, it will allow us to address our waiting list, expand our services and create a better environment for not only our clients and staff, but also for our community.”

Even with the Thurlow estate’s donation of $100,000 toward PSNI’s capital campaign, close to $6 million remains to be raised, which the organization plans to secure through a five-year fundraising campaign.

“First of all, we need to raise the money to build the new service complex that will be so important for our clients and hard-working staff,” Nicholson stated. “Soon we’ll launch a massive fundraising drive. We will reach out to the community for support during this transition.”

For more information about their programs or to make a donation, visit their website at

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