City Government

We Hear You Knocking, But You Can’t Come In

Time for the Boise Parks Department to stop living the BIG LIE. Each time we raise the issue of the citizens being locked out of the BOISE DEPOT we all own, they promise it will be opened soon, but it never happens.

Latest development is in KBCI-TV reporter Sarah Dallof’s story Monday about caterers who are not being catered to and some are unhappy. Only “preferred vendors” are allowed to use the depot for profitable enterprises.

It is the citizens who should be able to use and share the building with summertime visitors. It should not serve as a reception hall for a select few caterers. A few directional signs and a brochure would make the historic landmark a tourist attraction–but it would conflict with the PRIVATE USE of the building.

The GUARDIAN would like to see the Depot serve as the “welcome center” for visitors to our fair city. They could climb or elevator to the top of the bell tower and view the City of Trees. It has plenty of parking and is perfect spot for visitors to relax and get to know a little about us. The Visitors and Convention Bureau could make more contacts at the Depot than under the parking garage at 9th and Front.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is following in the steps of his predecessor, Brent Coles, by locking the general public out of the building we rallied to “save,” purchasing bricks, t-shirts, and posters.

Only if you pony up nearly a grand will Boise Parks let you into the historic train depot which stands guard over the city at the south end of Capitol Boulevard facing the State Capitol at the other end.

The view from the bell tower is spectacular, but if you can’t afford to rent the place for the $900 minimum fee you can “forgetaboutit.” Sad state of affairs when citizens own a building used almost exclusively for commercial office space and social receptions. For a few years it was open to visitors, but only mornings and afternoons–it was CLOSED weekends and during lunch! Last we heard there was a token opening on a week night.
Steam Loco at Depot.jpg

If it costs $75,000 to run it for PUBLIC ACCESS, so be it. It is simply wrong to keep the public out and rent it to a select few. Better to sell to a private high bidder…afterall it was owned by a private railroad for nearly a century, never went anywhere and the Union Pacific would let you in!

Comments & Discussion

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  1. My husband and I watched that story and were aghast that such a state of events has come about. Who decided that only selected caterers can cater there? What kind of stupid decision making is that? We want to know who made this decision and why?

    While we are at it, why isn’t someone getting passenger rail restored to southern Idaho so we can get out of here without having to go by air?

    Rail travel is much more efficient in terms of energy resources, so I have read, and there are a billion or so of us boomers and pre-boomers who would like to have a choice.

    I would like to see Amtrak (or ?) buy the depot and allow public access again.

    ED NOTE–There just isn’t any support, financial or otherwise for train travel. Nostalgia only. Government and private have all tried and it just won’t stay on track.

  2. Ah, Guardian, you dreamer you! Expecting Boise officials to care about Boiseans — or the public in general. Still, I hope you rattle some cages.
    I, too, would love to see the Depot open again. But I’d really love to see it open as a depot — complete with trains and train service — remember them?

    Some years back, before the feds or somebody decided Idahoans don’t count, Boise had Amtrak service, just like the “real” states on the sunrise side of the nation. My wife and I boarded the train at the depot for a trip to Washington, D.C.– A very enjoyable journey — meals in the dining car, drinks in the bar car, the length of the train to explore when I wanted to stretch my legs, a totally laid-back, restful way to get somewhere, unlike the frenzied rush to get locked up in an aluminum tube, blasted thousands of feet into the air while crammed in like sardines, unable to view the passing scenery (though it must have been down there), and basically having a miserable time.

    The only drawback was we had to sit up several of the nights each way because Amtrak brass decided not to put on enough sleeper cars. When I asked why, I was told not enough people were using the sleepers. Well, as many as could fit into them were using them, so, obviously the only way to have more people use them would be to hook more sleeping cars into the train, duh.

    But, no, officials would rather get rid of trains, close depots, and then sit around and whine about how much traffic there is on the highways and how the skies are too crowded, and how they need zillions of dollars to build more roads and airports (to serve airlines that are going broke).

    So dream on, my friend, of a depot open to the public, and I will dream on about that depot then being put to its intended use.

  3. Well stated Guardian!
    I would be interested in the logic(I realize this is a weird request when dealing with Dave and his crew) behind the decision to allow only certain access to the depot.

    Is the next step to exclude “religous” weddings on public property? Or maybe “Vegan” catering should be excluded.

    This whole thing is starting to take on an aroma and I don’t think it is smelling of deviled eggs…come to think of it, it may be like deviled egg gone bad.

  4. Why doesnt Mayor Beiter and his crew consider including the Boise Depot with their list of city properties they can sell to finance libraries, etc. (Items they wish to purchase that the people have voted no).

    At least in this scenario the people of Boise would then be most likely able to use the old depot grounds for something other than to collect pigeon crap…. or to line the pockets of the few “chosen vendors or caterers”

  5. Maybe you should call the Mayors hot line and ask him about this? I am sure he is waaaaaay too busy to read this blog!

  6. Does anyone know how much “revenue” has been generated by the letting of the Depot for private soires? It would be interesting to know how much the Parks Dept makes off of keeping the public out. I just wish the Director would man-up to this issue. He always sends someone more “expendable” to deal with the press on depot matters. The last time he did that a tiger had attacked someone. I’m thinking the public is just too much of a nuisance around the depot and receptions are where the action is.

  7. Ferris B (Beuller)
    Apr 11, 2006, 9:20 pm

    Spot on Tam. The parks director just can’t be bothered. Hmmm…it sure does seem to be somthing going around, doesn’t it?

    It sure would be nice to take visitors to see the view that can’t be seen anywhere else. I was lucky enough to go up there once and I have wanted to return.

    The exclusivity of it all is just galling.

  8. Watch out Elaine and Alan might sell the Depot to one of their developer friends for more CONDOS!

  9. The Parks Director runs one of the largest “kingdoms” in the city. Please read bewteen the lines.

  10. “Kingdom” is an apt if not mild way of describing Boise Parks management.

    The real story here is Elaine, Eberle, and Alan; they are sooooo very elitist. I’d bet the farm that they are the ones behind this latest mess, along with the Parks fellow.

    We can’t have any nomads around here, can we?

  11. Ancient proverb say: “He who balances himself atop pyramid on backs of many loyal subjects, fall very long way!” Maybe it’s time for a shakeup on “Royal Boulevard”.

  12. Folks, when gas hits $5.00/gallon trains will again become popular. The car companies will not make super energy efficient cars fast enough. Micron will scream because its Canyon County employees won’t be able to afford to drive their Tahoes to work. Give it time. The Depot will be busy again in the near future. You can talk about it when gas hits $3.00/gal this summer.

  13. Guardian: When was the last time the government “tried” rail travel? The gov’t has been supporting the interstate highway system and the airlines for years. I haven’t heard of any reason why there can’t be at least a trial run to see how many people would like to avoid the nonsense at the airport and avoid sitting in a box like sardines for several hours at a time. One of the great things about trains is that you can’t drive them into buildings. But you can walk around and get something to eat.

    Because airlines revolve around “hubs” when you get to the hub you still have to figure out how to actually get to the town you want to go to. For example, I have a daughter in western Kentucky. To visit her I have to fly to Nashville, Tennessee. There used to be a shuttle bus to Fort Campbell, Ky, but it went away. I don’t feel comfortable driving on unfamiliar highways so my daughter has to drive 75 miles each way to get me. Consequently I have quit going. There are zillions of trains running around. None of them take passengers. That’s just dumb, in my opinion. This is not nostalgia for me – I would just like to travel point to point without having to rent an automobile.

    I used to enjoy flying but the thrill is gone…now it is just a chore.

  14. Even though city officials talk about “rail” they know it falls into the same subsidized program bucket as busses.

    The fact is that they know that it will nieiher pay for itself or significantly reduce traffic. Even if there was a train it would need to go downtown – NOT to the Depot. If the train goes to the depot you would have to condem homes around it to provide parking or bus access and you would have to have busses to take riders from there to downtown – this is VERY ineffecient and city officals know it.

    Note- How do you think all those multi-millionaires who buy condos on Crescent Rim will feel about trains every 30 minutes 35 feet from their doors. Going to be hard to sell condos next to the tracks. Doubt we see that fact in the glossy sales lit from Mr. Clark.

    To pay for a train the city would also have to raise taxes significantly. Then there is the “power” issue of who “controls the infrastructure and the MONEY”.

    Their current approach is to create as much traffic congestion as possible in hope to get voters to agree to try rail – whatever the cost. Both approaches will fail and are deeply flawed.

  15. With a little study the government can determine peak traffic. For valley intercity traffic there can be minibuses to take people from the depot to downtown at peak times. There could be other stops and other minivan pickups across the valley – probably not very many. I doubt this would require train traffic every 30 minutes. Business could certainly adjust their opening and closing times to accomodate public transit.

    As for interstate rail I expect twice a day would be sufficient for some time – one going east and the other west. This doesn’t need to be the be-all end-all but would just give citizens another choice in traveling. There is no reason the government can’t at least try this system but not by trying to subvert it from the start.

    If a train service were to start in the valley again I would be first in line go anywhere, wouldn’t even care where.

  16. We Hear You Knocking, But You Can’t Come In,
    We Hear You Knocking, Go Back Where You Been…

    Boise Parks Department is not for common Boise residents and taxpayers who own the parks and pay their wages. When are you/us commoners going to realize your/our place?

    Promises from Parks are cheap. A lawsuit against them would win but we would end up paying the tab but let’s do it!

    Caterers and “preferred vendors” probably can be from anywhere as long as use of the depot is for profit.

    I don’t know why us citizens can’t use it any time we want to. Some of us work different hours and days than most of the people.

    I like the idea of the Depot being the “welcome center” for residents and visitors. There are some cool contraptions that run on railroad tracks, even if the tracks go to nowhere. I have never had the opportunity to climb or take the elevator to the top of the bell tower and view the City of Trees. I would even pay to do it, plus pay my taxes to have it taken care of and protected.

    Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is an elitist. Forget about him becoming a realist. They beat that out of people in law school.

  17. $75,000….gee Guardian, that is a lot of money. Maybe we should hold a bond election to approve that expenditure. Nice double standard. Convenient.

  18. Jon – the double standard is the Mayor and Council who cannot keep their word. Promise something and not deliver…..That’s “convenient”.

  19. Max- Just pointing out that Mr. Frazier’s comment of “if it costs $75,000…so be it” is awful free wheeling with our money considering his other opinions. I didn’t say anything about the appropriateness of the city’s actions and in fact would agree the public needs better access to this treasure.

    If Mr. Frazier is a self appointed guardian of the public trust, then I assume he doesn’t mind when someone points out gaps in his logic or duplicitous reasoning. After all, who is watching the watchers?

  20. Jon, Nothing duplicitous about Guardian “freewheeling” with 75k. If we did away with some of the unnecessary layers of insulating management in the Parks area, it wouldn’t take long to come up with 75k in base money for this purpose. The depot is already purchased, it was already promised, if costs 75k, then lets get on it with. Let the cartoons begin.

  21. This is actually so sad…. when I was a kid we would go to the Boise Depot and play there as if it were just another Boise park. We could play hide and seek on the land, leave pennies on the tracks to get smashed by the trains and play inside – or even use the huge rest rooms. No matter how often we were inside we were always in awe of the place. Wow the ceilings were so high and the noise echoed so there was a natural desire within us to be more quiet (not wanting to attract the attention of adults, I suppose).

    My kids could do the same thing. But my grandkids can only play on the grounds. They love this, but unlike the other parks in Boise, there is not a public restroom – for the public to use. Is this legal? I am sure that it is, or it would not be done……
    Is it legal to have a Boise Park without restrooms?

    ED NOTE–The areas aroung the grotto and the bushes might smell better if they had public restrooms.

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