City Government

Depot Remains “Private”

When the world’s largest operating steam locomotive came to Boise Sunday, it was banned from parking at the most beautiful Depot in the Northwest. So much for promoting rail transportation.

The historic “Challenger” was relegated to a stretch of weed-lined track west of the Depot because a private party had rented the Spanish mission-styled landmark. The GUARDIAN finds it a tragedy that a historic train can’t even park at the Depot because the city keeps it closed to the public in order to pay for upkeep by renting the building as a catering hall.

Where is the logic? The public pays for a wonderful building, but in order to maintain it, the city has to close it to the public that bought it! If the City can’t staff the Depot, sell it to someone who can afford to run it full time. Putting the PArk Department in the position of being a catering agent is unfair to all concerned.

The very first posting on the GUARDIAN was about the public being locked out of the Depot we all worked to “save” when the city purchased it.

Here is an excerpt from what they told a reader in May:

“We hope to have Staff assigned to the Depot on a regular bases (sic) by mid June for at least 3 days a week W-F from 1pm to 5pm. Since January, Parks & Recreation facility reservation staff has assisted with scheduling over 135 events at the Depot for 2005, and have provided scheduled tours on a weekly basis.”

Nearly all of those events were PRIVATE. Boise Depot remains closed to the public except 2-6 p.m. Mondays and serves as a rental hall for PRIVATE EVENTS. They never staffed it during the busy summer tourist season.

In fairness to the Park Department–we do like to be fair even though they tend to mislead–the U.P. suffered from a major communications failure on the visit. We are told the City had tried “for years” to get the Challenger to visit, especially since the Depot is 80 years old this year. Apparently the railroad never notified the city of the impending visit.

We think weddings can go to the country clubs and hotels. Leave the Depot open to the public and tourists.

Perhaps a city council candidate can make this a cause during the upcoming election.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. This one will take council intervention. I believe the agreement or at least understanding when the Parks department assumed responsibility for the Depot was that they would pretty much shut it down except for weddings, receptions, galas, etc. Jim Hall will never give a straight answer and in fact has never given a straight answer. He is one whose nine lives should nearly be used up, I would think. After the tiger incident, he should have been on about life eight. There is no reason the facility should not be open six days a week (at least Tues-Sat) to the general TAXPAYING public. This is a no brainer…but sometimes even that is too much to ask.

  2. While we waited for the Challenger to arrive, we enjoyed looking at the names on the donor bricks around the Depot…and being locked out of the Depot made me glad I never bought one.

  3. If it ain’t light rail, it just ain’t sexy to Elaine and her cronies.

  4. Treva Hamilton
    Sep 28, 2005, 12:10 am

    I agree with you that light rail is probably not going to happen in this valley during my lifetime. However, I have really hoped that interstate rail would return to the valley. When my brother attended college in Portland in the late 50’s and 60’s he always traveled by train. Going to the Boise Depot to see him off was a great experience. There is nothing I would enjoy more than the opportunity to travel this country by train and to see our depot as a vital part of this transportation system again. Air travel is no longer fun and driving across country may be enjoyable to a few car enthusiasts, but I want to see America up front and personal. Those of you who have bought a Eurorail pass will know what I mean. I want to see a revival of the Depot as it once was – not a private party place but a transportation hub.

  5. Please clarify. If the combined “total” police and fire budgets are approximately $69.7 million, how does that equal 53% of of a $390 million “citywide” budget? Presumably, both police and fire are not funded 100% from the general fund. The $69.7 million figure should more accurately be described as being approximately 18% of the City’s “citywide” budget (69.7 divided by 390 equals 17.87%).

    Ed Note–When the city wants to sound big, show their net worth, or debt as a precent of overall budget etc. they roll out the big $390 million figure. That includes the operation of the airport and sewer systems which are paid almost entirely by user fees and have nothing to do with the general fund budget. These are called enterprise funds. The REAL annual budget is $130-140 million known as the “operating budget” and it more accurately reflects what it costs to run the city. Your percentages word out accurately using the “honest numbers.

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