City Government

Boise: “No Thanks to Historic Funds”

Despite repeated attempts by the Idaho Historic Preservation Office to give Boise some cash, the Boise mayor’s office passed up the chance for $5,000. Historic.jpg

Mayor Bieter also has left a seat on the city Historic Preservation Commission empty for more than a year.

In response to a query from a GUARDIAN reader last June, we asked Mayor Bieter’s staff to answer charges the city was not responding to the State Historic Preservation Office efforts to give money to the city–as it has done for over 15 years–and why the commission seat was not filled. There was also a question about some new “historic” infill houses in the Hyde Park area.

Here is the entire response:

“1. It would be improper for the mayor to discuss why one particular individual was passed over for a commission appointment in favor of another. However, it is absolutely NOT true that a seat on the Historic Preservation Commission has been left vacant. Applicants for that position are currently under review, and an appointment is likely in the near future.

2. The city has NOT decided to forgo CLG (preservation) dollars this year. Five thousand dollars is not a lot in relation to a multimillion-dollar municipal budget, but the city is not in the habit of turning its back on available resources. On the other hand, the city also needs to be fully cognizant of any strings that might come attached to those resources. Council and staff are preparing to discuss these issues with the state in the near future.

It’s worth noting that the City of Boise has undergone a tremendous shift regarding its approach to historic preservation in the past 18 months. The City Council last year approved creation of three new historic districts that roughly tripled the number of structures subject to historic review in the city and actually doubled the asset base within historic districts statewide. So any suggestion that the city is somehow neglecting its heritage is preposterous on its face.

In addition to the increased workload, both the council and the commission have recognized that extending historic designation to diverse, dynamic, still developing neighborhoods requires care and forethought. The commission has completed drafts of new residential design guidelines for historic districts as well as changes to the historic district ordinance, and will be meeting with the council later this summer to discuss those changes.

I hope this provides some context regarding these issues.”

Translation: the City failed to respond to the State offer for Historic Preservation funds and the commission seat that was vacant in June remains vacant in October.

We waited nearly four months to report this story, but our inquiries with city staff pretty much indicate the issue never was voted upon by the city council. The state has now distributed the funds elsewhere–all for lack of action by the city. We know the city failed to meet with the state despite “preparing to discuss these issues in the near future.”

We asked for comment from the Mayor’s staff and got the same response they gave the State.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Perhaps the mayor and his staff are overwhelmed with the jobs they took on. I had great hopes for the new administration – however I am starting to see some similarities between the Bieter and Coles administrations and the Bush and Clinton administrations – we thought the first one wasn’t too good until we got the second one.

  2. I assume the SHPO is distributing federal largesse. A $5,000 federal grant would no doubt come with all the strings attached courtesy the National Park Service. Would the $5,000 grant require the city match it with local funds? If so, how much? There may be other limitations on the use of the funds that do not align with city priorities. You might want to look into that first before you simply conclude the city failed to respond to an offer of funds. Otherwise, it’s hard to get excited about $5,000.

  3. North Ender
    Oct 5, 2005, 11:12 pm

    The mayor and City Council are not paying any attention to the Historical Commission because they do not care about it. In fact they want to see it go away or at least have NO power or influence.

    Our city “leaders” (a term that might better be city dictators) want anything historical to go away. Everything must be URBAN.

    They want to convert the train depot into train and bus stop for a transportation idea that will never work. They want infill everywhere, including the historical north end and rim areas -regardless of the effects on the neighborhoods or the history of what makes Boise the special place that it is …… or used to be.

  4. Well we do have an election coming up. And while the choices may not be great, there is, at least, the possibility the tyranny of the current crew could be broken up.

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