Eagle Road has become Main Street and Meridian is quickly becoming the new “China” for Boise planners, politicos and purchasers–threatening to either own or control everything from highway dollars to retail market share.
While Boise has been preoccupied filling the former “hole in the ground” with a mirrored skyscraper, Meridian (Idaho’s third largest city) has been annexing hundreds of acres and filling them with big box stores, restaurants, government complexes, and manufacturing facilities—all with free parking.
Since Boise got into the urban renewal business–over several mayor’s administrations–Sears has left downtown, Penney’s is gone, and the Bon Marche has left a vacant building in the core of downtown. We are told Office Depot is the largest retail store in downtown Boise these days.
BoDo developer Mark Rivers seems to have left town to share his “visions” in Eastern cities with public money to spend. He is replaced by the Gardner Company which has presented its own “visions” for downtown. Gardner owns or operates both the new Zions Bank and US Bank tower.
Now the development firm seeks to build a massive underground transit hub beneath 8th and Main–for a populace wedded to the automobile and a city with a nearly dysfunctional bus system.
Public money is at the root. The Feds earmarked $12 million for a transit center that has been scorned at four previously proposed locations and they are pressuring Valley Regional Transit to spend the cash or lose it.
Capital City Development (CCDC), the urban renewal agency, has bought in to the transit vision, but the agency will soon be hamstrung when the downtown district expires in a few years. Currently all taxes on improvements and appreciated value goes to CCDC. When the downtown project expires, the diverted tax money will go back to the city, schools, county, etc. At that time it will be illegal to spend CCDC money within the former district.
Gardner seems to also be threatening the GBAD boys at the Greater Boise Auditorium District. Part of his vision includes convention facilities. GBAD has long sought to expand it’s presence downtown, but if the $1 million annual losses at Nampa’s Idaho Center are any indication, there just isn’t enough convention business to go around.
Admittedly a “growthophobe,” the GUARDIAN harkens back to quotes from sports figures Yogi Berra and Dan Hawkins.
Berra (paraphrased): “Downtown is so crowded nobody goes there anymore.”
Hawkins: “Bigger isn’t better. Better is better.”
Joan Johnston lives near the proposed winter terrain park off Horseshoe Bend Rd. and opposes it. The GUARDIAN will gladly offer space to any interested party who supports the park on Ada County land.
By Joan Johnston
There is more to the snow terrain park proposal issue than just water and the other concerns like traffic, noise, etc., the public has brought to the Eagle City Council. Its about providing free tax-exempt land for Ryan Neptune to operate his business on.
Because the City of Eagle is attempting to circumvent the proper processes for the snow terrain park proposal and has not applied for the proper permits to develop this proposal, they’re now attempting to purchase land from Ada County, and in essence, give it to Ryan Neptune to develop and operate his snow terrain park for the next 20 years.
The only reason for them to purchase this land off Old Horseshoe Bend Rd. at this time is for Neptune’s for-profit business. This land was originally purchased as a buffer to the landfill and was never intended to be developed. Now the City of Eagle wants to develop it by allowing a for-profit private business to come in and have exclusive use of the land and facilities. The existing bike and foot trails could become secondary to the private business.
Therefore,existing bike and foot trails in the path of the proposed slopes may be moved. Even if the City of Eagle purchases only a small portion of the land, Eagle has zoning which allows a private business to operate on public land.
The type of business t proposed for the park is really immaterial — no commercial/for-profit business should ever be allowed to have exclusive use of any public land or public facilities for 20 years. The only way to keep any for-profit business from operating on this public land is to give the Ada County Commissioners a reason not to sell the land to the City of Eagle.
The Ada County Commissioners want to hear from Ada County residents about what they envision and/or their desired use of the land. You can help by getting the word out to others, and testifying at the upcoming public informational meeting on December 18, 2013 at the Ada County Courthouse, 200 W Front Street, 1st Floor at 6 pm in the Commissioner’s Hearing Room.
If you can’t make this public meeting, you can e-mail the Commissioners at firstname.lastname@example.org or write them at Ada County Board of Commissioners, Ada County Courthouse, 200 W Front Street, 3rd Floor, Boise, ID 83702 with your comments about how you would like to see the land be used.
If Valley Regional Transit and Capital City Development Corp. (CCDC) get their way, Boise’s highest and lowest structures will be at the same downtown intersection of 8th and Main.
That is the latest planned location for a “multi model transportation center,” but this time they are looking at hiding the bus station underground diagonally across the street from the new mirrored Zion’s Bank tower.
This latest attempt at a transit center comes after sites at 11 and Idaho, 8th and Jefferson and others were scuttled for various political reasons including opposition from the Idaho land board.
VRT sent out requests for qualification and proposals and GUARDIAN sources say there was only a single response. The GUARDIAN speculates the Gardner Company is the only outfit with the financial wherewithal to put together a transit center.
Based on what we have been able to piece together it appears the location includes a small surface parking lot adjacent to the Center on The Grove along Main Street. It is also midway between Gardner’s two prized downtown properties–US Bank and Zions Bank.
The location is actually the same (below?) as the current bus transfer point. Our only concern is how much public money will go into the project and how much of it will benefit the private developer.
One caution for all concerned is to not rush forward without public support. Mayor Dave Bieter has relentlessly pushed for a trolley system ranging from a downtown “circulator” to a system with routes to BSU and even the airport. No doubt Federal transportation funds secured by Senior Sen. Mike years ago are about to expire, so there will be some “use it or lose it” urgency.
Coincidentally the Ada County Highway District is set to hear a presentation Wednesday at 10 a.m. from Gardner. The firm will share its vision for downtown and discuss transportation issues with the five member ACHD board.
The bid by a group to “preserve the horse racing industry” may be galloping toward a constitutional challenge that is anything but a sure bet.
Ada County Commishes are negotiating a lease agreement with Treasure Valley Racing to determine if instant racing will be allowed at Les Bois Park and under what terms. At a meeting Tuesday both proponents and opponents were heard.
It all boils down to the current proprietors of Les Bois Park claiming they are losing money operating the track and Turf Club. Plenty of businesses lose money, but not many are able to do it at a publicly owned facility and then ask for help. They claim the only way to stay in the running is with “historical racing delivered on video terminals.” Most people call those slot machines.
Garden City Council is the primary opponent at this point, concerned about increased crime and traffic at the county-owned venue which is surrounded by corporate Garden City–which ironically was created so slot machine gambling could survive in 1949 when Boise outlawed slots.
This debate is barely out of the starting gate, but the high roller is likely to be Garden City when it comes to having cash to pay lawyers. Their only task will be to convince a judge or jury the definition of gambling and slots includes a machine that takes your money while you watch a tiny video of a race with a pre determined outcome.
Here is the CONSTITUTION applicable section:
Section 20. GAMBLING PROHIBITED. (1) Gambling is contrary to public policy and is strictly prohibited except for the following:
a. A state lottery which is authorized by the state if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and
b. Pari-mutuel betting if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation; and
c. Bingo and raffle games that are operated by qualified charitable organizations in the pursuit of charitable purposes if conducted in conformity with enabling legislation.
(2) No activities permitted by subsection (1) shall employ any form of casino gambling including, but not limited to, blackjack, craps, roulette, poker, bacarrat, keno and slot machines, or employ any electronic or electromechanical imitation or simulation of any form of casino gambling.
(3) The legislature shall provide by law penalties for violations of this section.
Kudos to Boise officials for joining the GUARDIAN in calling for a joint training facility for Boise, Meridian, and Eagle fire departments.
We had questioned the need for a $17 bond–not the facility, but the funding–well before the election. On October 6, the GUARDIAN said: “Boise Fire Dept. recently entered into some “mutual aid” cooperative agreements with other Ada County departments like Meridian and Eagle. Those agreements should be backed up with mutual training. Any fire training academy should be funded by all the departments in the county, not just on the backs of Boise property owners.”
Rather than do their home work BEFORE the election and look for ways to get all the departments in the county to put “skin in the game” to fund a joint training facility, Boise officials chose to “sell” the idea of increasing taxes and having the entire cost of a new training facility placed on the backs of our citizens.
In a front page story Friday, Sven Berg of the DAILY PAPER outlines plans by Chief Dennis Doan to explore funding options with the other departments. The GUARDIAN plan is a logical one and we are pleased Doan has jumped aboard.
We find it a bit deceptive–perhaps even deceitful–for Boise officials to seek a tax hike when they were well aware of alternative funding methods for a joint training facility. The logical place for the training facility would be at the West Boise waste water facility which is bordered by Meridian, Eagle, and Boise. Good central location.
…is a fun, factual, informed and opinionated look at current news and events in and around Boise, Idaho. The Guardian was born of necessity.