Poet Paul

What To Do With The Big House On The Hill

Seems there is a move afoot for the State of Idaho to get out of the housing business for the Gov. The J. R. Simplot mansion at Bogus Basin and Cartwright Roads appeared to be a good deal for citizens and the price was right when J.R. Donated it a few years back.

Now it is costing a bundle to maintain and renovate and there is talk of getting rid of the landmark. Guv Butch gets a housing allowance for NOT living in the state-owned residence, prompting Poet Paul to offer this thought:

The state hit the mother lode
When given the Governor’s abode
Otter there does not dwell
So the state wants to sell
What happens when Butch hits the road?

UPDATE–Despite comments, Gov. Butch Otter does NOT take a housing allowance from the state anymore.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. What a slap in the face of the Simplot family.

  2. It’s an awesome piece of property, especially when you factor in what was once called “Highlands Stables,” right behind. (That was back before Jack moved into the neighborhood… my sister took some horseback-riding lessons up there.)

    Frankly, I never thought the best use of it was as a governor’s mansion.

    Here’s what I suggest:
    – State retains ownership.
    – State leases it out to a private enterprise that specializes in lavish parties, receptions, etc. (Maybe it would take some business away from the Boise Depot enterprise, but what the hey?) The lease could stipulate that the lesee maintains it. They could pave part of the stable area for parking, and have a “trolley”-like shuttle bus to transport revelers up and down the hill. (Or a gondola ride! Woo-hoo!) I’m speculating they could probably book 200 events in it a year, but I’m no expert. Maybe keep it open-to-the-public one day a week. Maybe have a little Jack Simplot display off to the side someplace.
    – Keep the hillside open to the public (use at your own risk).
    – I’m thinking a couple “zip lines” on the front could also be operated by a private concern, for some decent profit during the warm-weather months.

  3. Bikeboy great call on the party/wedding/reception venue idea. I’ve done the research and there truly is a large demand for that sort of facilty in the Treasure Valley especially one with an great view and parking. There are many small venues but they have parking and capacity limitations. Hotels and meeting halls are…well, hotels and meeting halls – not terribly attractive or appealing. Could be a real home run.

  4. It’s just a house on a hill. If it’s not being used, sell it and put the money to good use for the citizens of the state of Idaho. So many Idahoans have lost their homes and worldly goods to a rotten economy, poor leadership and bad decisions by wealthy elitists. What will the governor personally give up to show good faith to those who pawn possessions to buy food?

  5. Sell it at auction, the govt should not be in the catering biz. Sell it, then tax it. The way way government was originally set up to work.

  6. The government should not be in the entertainment business. That includes leasing party venues, horse tracks, raft rentals, and yes, fairs.

  7. Can’t help but wonder. I realize I’m slow, but why do we pay Butch $5000 a month to live in his own home? Guess we are all pretty slow. We allow it.

  8. Otter gave up his housing allowance a few months ago!
    Let Boise city have it! That way if they keep it, they can only have public access from 3-4:30 pm on alternate Tuesdays. Or, they can let CCDC sell it and the citizens of Boise will never see a penny!

  9. If we had someone as governor who was not the former son-in-law of the donor it could be used as a governors home. Most states have a residence for the governor. Not all governors have lived in and had their own home in Boise. Why sell it just because there are personal feelings between Otter and the Simplot family?

  10. I don’t know about “awesome,” but it is a unique piece of property.

    That no one wants to live in, really, and with an access and parking problem for use as an event venue of any sort.

    The drive across the ridge is reminiscent of medieval times; I guess Jack liked his privacy.

  11. I do not think there are hard feelings between Buch Otter and the Simplot family but there could be disjointed feelings between Mrs. Otter and the Simplot family. Get over it Mrs. Otter—you got him

  12. Bikeboy had it right, here’s what i posted on Kevin Ritchert’s blog at the Statesman:

    Keep it for now

    Selling in this market is plain stupid.

    The Governor’s residence was free to the the state but should still be considered an investment and why would you cash out at the bottom of the market? Keep it and see if it’s needed in the future. If not the market will get better.

    It was really stupid to sell the former Governor’s residence on 27th street and provide an allowance instead since costs of renting will always go up but with the residence most of the costs are fixed.

    If the Governor chooses not to live there then start renting it out for weddings and other occasions to cover costs. The place was remodeled to entertain large groups. If the allowance is removed from the picture then the possibility of a profit renting it out exists.

  13. It was given to the State of Idaho as a residence for the Governor in good faith by the Simplot Family. If the State no longer wants the place then they ought to give it back to the Simplot family. Let them decide what is best for the place.

  14. Dump the Dump
    Dec 11, 2009, 12:47 am

    Let us remember that Jack did not exactly “give” the house to the state. It would be more correct to say he sold it to the state for the amount of the tax credit. In that light, simply giving it back has an unfortunate odor.

    It is also important to remember that Jack never gave away anything that had value. Point being that keeping the dump was costing him more than it was worth. Same story for the state. If it is costing the state more to keep it than it can possibly bring by waiting (months? years?) for the market to improve, it should be unloaded. The sooner the better.

    As for the idea of using it to cater out weddings and the like. Great idea. That must mean it has a high market value to catering companies. Sell it to one of them. Soon. One way or the other, it is time this turkey went back to private hands and back on the tax rolls.

  15. Ericn: The government should not be in the entertainment business. That includes leasing party venues, horse tracks, raft rentals, and yes, fairs.

    The libertarian in me agrees 100%.

    However… does that “entertainment business” extend to parks (city/state/national)? Should they be privatized? How about recreational pursuits in forests and other open places?

    It’s complicated.

    My vision of leasing the property to professionals would be similar in concept to the national parks leasing concession rights to professionals… or on a much smaller scale, the city leasing the concession rights to they guy who runs the little paddle-boat thing at Julia Davis Park. The good citizens retain ownership of property that can never be sold for its true value… but a little revenue is realized at the same time.

  16. Jack gave a hell of a lot of money to this community and employed a ton of people over the years. He lived in that “dump” for 25 years himself. To say that he “never gave away anything of value” is outrageous.

  17. I had the pleasure of knowing Jack Simplot. Not that we shared the same social circles(I worked for someone that did share that circle) That part doesn’t matter because it made no difference to Simplot. He judged everyone he met on the same level. Some here need to know the difference between “making” money and “earning” money. Jack always looked for opportunities to “earn” more money, and he earned every penny! From a hand lined irrigation ditch to a gold mine in South America, he earned it. Jack spent as much time and effort, especially after he became so successful, trying to find ways to help his community and the people in it. Anyone who says otherwise is being just plain ignorant of the man and his contributions.

  18. Cyclops- Amen. A hard worker from the start. He was a true Idaho pioneer.

  19. New Him and Liked Him, Glad He's Gone.
    Dec 12, 2009, 11:09 am

    I too knew, and worked for Jack. Found him to be an incredibly personable and enjoyable man. However, this latter day tendency to paint him as a saint is amusing, perhaps even distressing. It may bet true that he earned most of the dimes he made. It is also true that he could have made a lot more dimes if he had not angered so many of the people from whom he made earlier dimes. You don’t have to shake many trees to find people that, having done business with Simplot once, will never do so again.

    I like the idea of the state keeping the house on the hill, as a shrine to corrupt Idaho politics and the go along to get along good ol boy networks that range from Rupert to IF, from Ada County to Boise City Council, and the “hauls” of the State Legislature.

    EDITOR NOTE–Much of this comment was deleted as it was too offensive even for the GUARDIAN.

  20. “erico49
    Dec 10, 2009, 7:29 am
    The government should not be in the entertainment business. That includes leasing party venues, horse tracks, raft rentals, and yes, fairs.”

    And the Legislature.

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