City Government

City Locks Citizens Out Of Depot

Boise Parks announced today the water is on in the toilets and drinking fountains within the city parks, signaling another season of recreation and relaxation.

It also marks yet another year the City has refused to allow the citizens who own the Boise Depot to enter the historic structure–unless they pony up close to a grand in cash to rent the place.

Nearly 10 years ago there was a huge push to “Save The Depot.” Citizens purchased bricks with the names of loved ones–or their own names–as a fund raiser. Past mayors used the airwaves to get free face time in the name of “save the depot.”

As soon as we saved it, it was locked up tight as a drum. The GUARDIAN has a history of fighting for public access at the Depot. So far we have lost the battle. The general theme has always been, “We are planning to open it this summer,” but it never happens. To blunt critics they opened it for two hours a week on Monday evenings–or some such foolishness.

We think the Depot is a great venue. If taxes need to be raised to keep it open, then get ‘er done and share this place with the tourists who come here each summer.

Earlier this month the GUARDIAN was at Cape Hatteras where folks gladly pay $6 to climb the light house. Our Depot is every bit as stunning and we think the view is easily worth a couple of bucks.
The Astoria Column is another attraction we should try to emulate (that’s “copy” for you non-library types).

The GUARDIAN will gladly chair a public meeting at the Depot to bring together the players who can open the place by Memorial Day weekend.

–PARKS needs direction from Team Dave and the City Council to get out of the catering business and become a public service venue at the Depot.

–Ada County Highway District will probably put up some direction signs so motorists can get to and from the Depot off Vista and Capitol Blvd. It wouldn’t take much to explain, but the traffic pattern is confusion.

–The Visitor’s and Convention Bureau should have space in the Depot on a daily basis to direct tourists to motels and the sights of our fair city. Perfect location since there is already parking.

Between their volunteers and the people the city can recruit, the Depot will be a real tourist gem instead of a diamond in the rough.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Don’t bet on the incompetent ACHD to do anything! They’re more likely to direct people to the 20 mile sludge farm as the depot. But with the 5-6 spokesmouths they have, they’ll let us know it was someone else’s fault and they’re suing them – so there!

    EDITOR NOTE–Does that mean you want the Depot to remain closed?

  2. No, of course not. By all means open the doors and let the sun shine in. I just don’t think you can count on ACHD to provide directional signs.

  3. Good idea. The Depot should be open to the public.

  4. I get grumpy just thinking about it. I challenge any City official to explain this. What’s the hold up.

  5. Like all the other sound ideas coming from the G it will be fun to see how long it takes the politicos to stumble over each other to make it THEIR IDEA. Table Rock Park is next.

  6. A bit off topic, but Sarah’s “spokesmouths” comment led me to wonder how many of those there are in the valley. Seems as if every agency has one or two.

  7. The Depot is open FREE to the public one day a week. You can even ride the elevator to the top of the bell tower (I happen to find that a great view!) I do wish it was more then once a week, but at least there is an option. Here are the times:

    The Boise Depot Great Hall and Bell Tower are open for public drop-in hours Mondays, except legal holidays. Admission is free. June-September 12:30-8pm, October-May 2-6pm

    Here is the link to that info:


  8. Theresa! Shame on you! By your own math the Depot is closed 6 and 2/3 days per week. Would you be so glib as to claim the ZOO is “open” with these hours? Would you claim that ANY park is open when it is really closed except for 8 hours per week.

    I sure hope you are not a city employee, because we don’t get our money’s worth if you are.

  9. Indeed, Theresa. Just about all the legal holidays are on Mondays. Don’t know too many folks, let alone tourists, that will rearrange their schedule around those hours.

    Are you a spokesperson? Since we have your attention how much revenue has the place generated in the past year? How much does it cost us to keep it up?

    As one of Boise’s best and most iconic landmarks, the maintenance for which we pay, its locked up tighter than the Penitentiary, but it has little or no use to us, not even as a tourist attraction.

  10. Theresa, thanks for the information. Even if it’s open four hours a day, that’s at 10 percent of the time during business hours.

    It would be nice if they opened it more, but I think they need to have someone there to make sure it doesn’t get vandalized or trashed. It would be better to have it open more during tourist season and see if enough people come to justify the expense of keeping it open.

    Also, my apologies for the intemperate scolding from Mom. She shames everyone who disagrees with her and likes to begin sentences with the words “If you were my kid …” and sprinkle a few words typed in capital letters afterward. I personally think she is a sock puppet for someone else here.

  11. We would be better off having the City lease the building and property to a non profit for a buck a year. The non-profit(Boise Visitor Center, or other qualified entity) could then open with volunteers and raise monies to pay the light bill.

    The City would be responsible for maintenance expenses and would retain rights to the property for a light rail system.

  12. Wow! The Lords of Boise let us in the Depot 1 day a week. Theresa, please thank them for us! Protecting our public investment by locking the public out is very noble of them. Our money is wanted-not our accessibility. Travesty! Why is not the Depot Boise’s premier Tourist Center?? What better location to spotlight Boise, climb the tower and witness the view? I would gladly pay the $6. I believe that tourists would too. Keep up the shout, editor. I think most thinking people agree with your position. Unfortunately, our city officials like to duck the issue. If not addressed, perhaps it will go away. NOT !

  13. So why not have the have the Depot open on SATURDAY not MONDAY???

    Not many folks out looking for things to do with their kids on Monday. Besides one day a week is not having much access at all.

    Maybe we should go get our bricks and just let the city use them one day a week.

  14. Well thanks for all your small thinking and narrow mind talk!! YAY each of YOU!

    If any of you can read, you can see I said I wish it was more. What I have noticed is a NUMBER of people in Boise, spread lies that it is never opened, and many have no idea it is ever open to the public.

    Sadly when ever we have been there, hardly anyone is there. If more people WERE to show up, I would think it would encourage them to be open more.

    Then again when we are at BAM we find few people there and when we are the History museum we find even fewer there.

    Some of us believe in sharing actual facts with people. I have found a NUMBER of single parents that are glad to find a free activity they can do with their children.

    Some of you clearly like to whine. To each their own I suppose. As for us we will continue to be involved in the community, and focus on facts and truths and not whiners.

    Now some notes for those of you that like to read only a part of a post, or had a comment specific to me, instead of to the topic.

    Mom — Keep your shame in your own family thanks!

    Sisyphus — No not a spokesman, I am just an educated citizen.

    Wonk — Thanks for the thoughts – I am used to such people and their need to “share”.

    Depot Bill — I am not your girl Friday run your own errands.


  15. Oh, my! Theresa does get fiesty!
    Max has a good point; a lot of folks work Mondays (Maybe Theresa doesn’t?), kids are busy with school, etc. Why *not* Saturday?

    Actually, though, like any city park, it should be open every day, and free. As I recall, when events are held in city (and state) parks, it’s illegal to charge admission, though they can ask for voluntary contributions, sell stuff to make some money, etc.

    Surely among the umpteen thousand people living in Boise, there are some who would volunteer to staff the depot, maybe sell a few souveniers, give directions to tourists, etc.

    Not many people go thre now, because not many people know when it’s open — I don’t recall ever seeing an ad in The Statesman or seeing promotions for the few hours anywhere.

    As for the tower: I can’t believe it really costs $6 — or more than a couple of cents — for enough electricity to lift folks up to the top. While I’d be willing to pay a buck or two for the trip if I wanted to go up there, I know it would be difficult for some people, especially those single parents with their children that Theresa mentions. They often have to really watch the pennies.

    But I’d bet a contribution jar near the door to the elevator would pick up more than enough from tourists and other to keep the electric meter spinning.

    Meanwhile, I wonder why no law types have looked into — and commented on — the legality of barring the public from a publicly owned site so much of the time. Seems likely that it’s illegal somehow. ????

    As for Mom: Keep it coming, Mom; seems some folks don’t like it when you slam ’em upside the haid, but also seems they need it since they like to hand it out but can’t take it.

    This is a discussion site, folks — we’re gonna disagree with one another on some topics; that’s what it’s all about.

    So any of ya — grumpy Theresa, caustic Mom, whoever — that wanna verbally whop me upside the haid for these comments, feel free. And let’s all keep the discussions going (maybe someday somebody will get a chance to read them aloud to our city councilors and others who *need* to know what people are thinking!)

    EDITOR NOTE– Gordon, I just mentioned the fact folks pay $5 at HCape HAtteras. I agree free would be nice with donations.

  16. I think somebody’s planning to put in one of them romantic scenic railway tour trains in the area. If you look around the backside of the depot, you’ll see scenic railway tracks. They are the exact same kind of scenic railway tracks that they use for other scenic railways scattered here and there.

    I mean, WHY would there be romantic scenic railway tracks behind the depot, unless somebody was planning to run a romantic scenic railway tour thru Boise?

    I wonder where it would go? Where could it go? Has anyone followed those tracks to see where they lead to? Hidden Hollow or one of them secret subdivisions on the outskirts of town?

    Hey, that’s it! A bunch of tree-hugging Californians want to use the depot for a dropping off point for a romantic scenic commuter railway!

    Give me a break!

  17. It is much easier to talk about change than to actually accomplish it. So I only hope everyone is more walk than talk.

    Everybody should write to Team Dave requesting a Saturday per month available to the citizen’s of Boise for viewing. It is very easy to write on this forum but just as easy to write or call the hotline.
    If Jan can do it so can you.

    EDITOR NOTE–We are going for EVERY DAY open during the summer tourist season.

  18. Gordon, good idea about getting volunteers. There should be plenty of volunteers who would staff the Depot, so it could be open weekends and weekdays free of charge and at reduced cost to taxpayers. The mayor should take the lead in organizing this – he could do it if he really tried. Maybe the Depot Bench Neighborhood Association could also step up to the plate and find some volunteers, since this is in their back yard.

    It’s crazy to require payment to ride up the bell tower (a donation box would be fine). Kind of reminds of the days of pay toilets at airports and bus stations. Those are long gone because of the unwelcoming message they sent. If you want to make this a tourist attraction, let people ride it for free to see our city.

  19. You are right Clancy, people taking action is what makes a difference .. I would hope to that people that want to see a change do something to help see that happen.


  20. Out of curiosity where is the Boise Visitors or Tourism and Convention booth, building or site now? Is there a visible place for people to go to find out about Boise? There used to be a place in Julia Davis Park, then it was downtown. Do we have such a site now? And, why not at the depot? It would be perfect and then it would be manned.

    EDITOR NOTE–The Visitor Bureau just rented some space in a house on Vista near Kootenai as I understand it. They should indeed be at the Depot and the GUARDIAN stands ready to broker a meeting of ACHD, Boise City council, Parks, and Visitors Bureau. We already have hotel money offer on the table.

  21. I’m confident that Saturdays are a HOT day for renting the Depot, for wedding receptions and the like. (More so than Monday.) I’d like to think that rentals to private parties are indirectly beneficial for my good fellow citizens. (Much more so than having the place sitting dark and empty.)

    Perhaps ONE Saturday a month would be in order… and demand could be measured. (The Visitors’ Bureau lease sounds like an awesome approach for staffing.)

  22. “EDITOR NOTE–The Visitor Bureau just rented some space in a house on Vista near Kootenai as I understand it.”

    Wow, Guardian, what brilliant folks those VB’ers are! Nothing like having a visitors bureau in a place it’s highly unlikely any visitor could ever find — and even some Boiseans have difficulty getting to. I mean, if it were in the depot, all that would be needed would be a few signs along the road saying Visitors Bureau in Depot at end of Capitol Boulevard … or some such thing. But then visitors would find it, and so it would have to be staffed, and those brochures and things would get picked up so more would have to be printed, etc. Much cheaper to have it where visitors won’t find it, right?

  23. I’m not sure of the exact configuration of the interior of the depot, but it appears (looking from the outside through windows) that access to the tower would be available from the east side door without disturbing the main rotunda area (where weddings and other events are generally held). Thus, making the facility “multi use” and open to the public would seem feasible.

    There are also meeting rooms on that east end of the building, which would seem to allow use of at least one of them by the visitor’s bureau. Paying even one buck per person to cover some costs doesn’t seem outrageous. Perhaps an orchestrated campaign to the Mayor’s hot line as was generated by the letter to the cops could escalate the issue on the depot in the mind of Dave the Mayor.

  24. A Murphy Administration will see the Depot opened to the public.

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