City Government

Historic Commission Fails Again

Vacancies on the Boise Historic Preservation Commission and more history than they can handle led to approval of five construction projects without public input in Boise’s North End.

Despite repeated assurances last June to the GUARDIAN from Mayor Dave Bieter’s office, one vacancy was not filled until November 1. The Commission simply failed to do its job considering construction within the North End Historic District and the projects were automatically approved.

One city employee said the inaction was due to a lack of quorum at an earlier meeting. Hard to get a quorum if you are short on members. The GUARDIAN has brought the issue to the attention of the City Planning Director as well as individual councilors and so far no action has been forthcoming.

In July Boise lost out on thousands of dollars in federal historic preservation funds when they failed or refused to respond to pleas from the Idaho Historic Preservation Office, the agency administering grants to cities. The state asked Boise to simply let them know if they wanted the money, but lost it due to a missed deadline. The GUARDIAN has the state documents in hand.

“The Historic Preservation Commission has faced some significant challenges in recent months, due to short-term staffing issues as well as increased workload as a result of the creation of three new historic districts, which roughly tripled the number of structures subject to historic preservation review by the City. The Mayor and City Council are working with Planning and Development Services to address these challenges and ensure that the process works well for all involved.

The previous vacancy on the commission was filled by the appointment of Betsy McFadden, approved by the City Council on Nov. 1. The current vacancy occurred last month when commissioner Mark Baltes informed the Mayor of his decision not to seek reappointment. The Mayor is currently interviewing candidates for that seat.”

The GUARDIAN can’t help but wonder why the city has three new historic districts and triple the structures subject to review when they haven’t the staff or the will to do the job. Why create historic districts if you can’t handle the job? It may be inappropriate to classify some areas as historic and a more liberal “Cultural District” might be in order.

The council needs to take some action pronto.

Previous GUARDIAN coverage.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Mad as Hell
    Nov 23, 2005, 3:09 pm

    The problem is that we have a mayor and city council that are so focused on INFILL that they could care less about ANYTHING historic!! They don’t want the seats filled because then the Commission would then be in a position to oppose their INFILL at all cost agenda!

    In fact they feel that the “historical” things or areas in Boise are getting in the way of their GROW, INFILL, GROW, INFILL agenda.

    The North End (and others) better wake up and get ready for an all out war to protect themselves. This mayor and council are slowly taking away any and all protections that have been in place for years.

    Other historic areas of town are already being FORCED to accept the City’s TOO DENSE, pack it in at all cost agenda. The City has told us that the only way we can change the current agenda is to “Vote them out”. Too bad they get two more years of screwing it up before we even have a chance to hope to see a change.

  2. Mad as hell – you don’t know what you are talking about. Why would Mayor Bieter have spearheaded the historic districts if he didn’t feel they were important?

    The sad truth is that so few people apply to participate on city boards and commissions. It is hard work and very time-consuming – for NO PAY. Maybe someone here should step up and volunteer?

    Ed note–Here is the chance to get some applicants. We were told in June it would be “inappropriate” to discuss why someone was chosen someone else was passed over. Dtrain, you seem pretty wired into the Mayor’s office. Get Zuzel to give us requirements for any vacancies and we will be happy to post them.

  3. Dtrain, your comment has a Mayor’s office slant. I heard the other side of the story early last summer – that two highly qualified historic architects had applied for the HPC but were turned down. Soooo, perhaps in this case it’s not a question of lack of qualified applicants so much as it is a lack of “agenda qualified” applicants.

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