City Government

City Plans To Market Depot, Exclude Public

Only those able to afford rental fees will be welcomed at The Boise Depot after the city council approves a new plan to increase efforts at “niche marketing” of the facility for private events.

A committee of Team Dave supporters has been meeting–after getting their marching orders from the Mayor last spring. THEIR REPORT and recommendations to the council will be presented at the Tuesday council “work session.”

The short version is this: The Boise Depot will probably remain mostly closed to the public in favor of “marketing” the facility to private party meetings, wedding receptions and the like. Currently the Depot is closed to the public whenever there is an event renting the facility and every Tuesday thru Saturday.

We just returned from a business trip to Boston and New Hampshire where most public facilities are open to the PUBLIC. They are open because they are of interest to visitors from throughout the country–and the world. The historic Spanish mission style building overlooking the city with an accessible bell tower could easily be a similar attraction.

Boise officials simply miss the point. If they want to “market” the Depot, it should be used as a visitor center and actively featured in travel guides and include ample DIRECTIONAL SIGNS. It needn’t be open for token visits by residents. It should be open all summer long and every weekend of the year.

The Depot was purchased by the Citizens in a huge “Save The Depot” campaign. We got hoodwinked by the previous administration and Team Dave has carried on the policy of excluding the public. It is now a mere catering venue–with discounts to catering companies.

We all foot the bill for the current repair and maintenance being conducted. We applaud the fact they are taking care of it, but find find it sad we are doing nothing but creating a nice venue for those with the cash to rent it.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Well.. the City is in the entertainment business with the Depot. BSU is in it by renting out the new sky box thingy for parties and proms. The County has the fair and the center at Barber Park. Wouldn’t surprise me if the State went that route with the Simplot house. And the feds are working on nationalizing the banks.

  2. If anything should be “marketed”, it should be the CITY OF BOISE!
    The depot will not replace one of the jobs lost at Micron. The depot will not keep one Boise business from moving to Meridian, Eagle,Kuna, Etc.. The depot will not keep one restaurant from failing in the downtown core. I wonder why something so “basic” is so difficult for city hall to understand. The depot, much like any historic building, should be used as an “attraction” for the local citizens. If it is available to the citizens, they will insure that visitors are exposed to it. Occasional private use would make sense. Private use, as the major effort by city hall, is just plain stupid! But as far as “stupid” is concerned, I guess we aren’t exactly covering new ground, are we?

  3. Serendipity
    Oct 13, 2008, 3:41 pm

    This state, and Boise in particular, just continues to get more elitist in their attitude toward the citizens at large. Meaning: catering to the rich few over the un-rich many. Guess why this city still doesn’t have decent mass bus transit: the people who’d use it don’t count with state, Leg., and city officials. Yet all these citizens will still vote for Jim Risch, Sali, and the rest of the officious politicos. As ye sow….

  4. If all the fee for use stuff will carry the costs of running the Depot then let them keep the unwashed masses out. If not, and public money subsidy has to be used to keep this monster afloat then something is wrong with “THEIR PLAN”.

    EDITOR NOTE–The current $.5 million or so in renovation costs sure didn’t come from annual rental fees! And moving the Big Mike locomotive to the Depot didn’t come from user fees either.

  5. I read the report and must say I am displeased with it. There’s almost nothing in there about keeping the depot open for the public. They mentioned producing “1-2 free community events to expand the awareness of the facility and its uses” and that it would be staffed for visits by the general public at least once a week, and that’s pretty much it. There was a little more time given to idea of making an educational/historical display at the depot, which would be nice, but that idea took a back seat to all the talk about how to make it a profitable rental venue (it was mentioned several times that any educational displays would have to be able to be removed easily if special events required it.) According to the report, the committee’s primary concern is to make the depot profitable to rent out for special events and if they can fit some educational stuff or time for you and me visit it around that, well that’s just a bonus, isn’t it?

    I was also disturbed to notice that, according to report, the Depot could be operating at an annual deficit of up to $75,000 per year until rental rates rise enough to cover everything.

    One thing that should make Guardian happy: they budgeted $2,000 for 6 additional way-finding signs.

  6. Seems to me that if it’s OK to rent out city property, we should rent out City Hall.
    Whoever rents it could use the council chambers, mayors office and similar facilities that are not (repeat, not) being used for the public good, anyway.

  7. Why can’t Boise take this approach?

  8. bert farber
    Oct 15, 2008, 4:20 pm

    It’s unfair. Now we can’t go inside the Depot, we can only stay outside and take pitchers.

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