Latest revelation from CWI is the apparent fact they are attempting to pay 35 times more per acre for land in Boise than land they just purchased adjacent to the Nampa campus. They will close next week on 32 acres for less than they are paying for a single acre in Boise.
The recent fiasco over the purchase of 10 acres of land along the Boise River by the College of Western Idaho at more than double the assessed value with no appraisal is nothing new for the area.
Boise’s West End in the area of 25th to Whitewater in the Fairview-Main corridor has a history of bad decisions when it comes to land purchases by government agencies.
The decline of the area came with completion of the “Broadway-Chinden Connector (I-184). When the traffic jams were eliminated, the car dealers moved out to Fairview and Maple Grove.
When the Courthouse on Front Street was built (under a questionable financing scheme itself) critics complained about parking issues. Boise’s urban renewal agency purchased land at 25th and Fairview for a “shuttle parking lot.” The idea was to run shuttles from 25th to and from the courthouse on Front Street. That purchase was illegal because urban renewal funds cannot be used outside the urban renewal district.
City Councilors scrambled around and came up with about $2 million to purchase the land from CCDC. They said it was an ideal spot for a police station. Before they could get started on the police station, the land at 2900 Fairview (former Larry Barnes Chevy) became available. Boise purchased that “ideal” land and planned to use revenues from the sale of the shuttle lot for part of the purchase. They never sold the parking lot.
The court ruled the police station was an illegal purchase without a bond election approved by voters. Boise lost a court trial on that issue.
Then, a few years later the city entered into a complex three way trade with a group of doctors who sought to build a private hospital. Part of the deal included purchase of land in the military reserve for a shooting range, but since it was owned by a couple of coppers, the city laundered the purchase through the doctors because it was illegal to deal with city employees for land purchases.
GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier questioned the deal, but councilors said they really wanted a private hospital and needed the shooting range. Sure enough, St. Luke’s, the big hospital gorilla, came along and bought out the doctors. St. Luke’s owns most of the land in the area of 25th-27th and Fairview which kept private hospital from happening.
Internal memos at CWI indicate officials there knew a member of the CWI foundation had a conflict of interest with the current purchase since he is attorney of record for the Bob Rice Trust which owns the 10 acres in question. Gregory Byron resigned from the foundation Feb. 4 and the purchase was signed April 1 by his client.
Here is the text: “Greg Byron- spoke on phone, needs to step down off board effective immediately. Again, not for bad. In fact…hopefully for the Best.
Meaning – has a conflict of interest with a piece of property that he represents the client and cannot represent the client and CWI at the same time. The property is in consideration for future CWI master plan. Details TBD.
Please trust and support decision. (Greg did the right thing, and is still big supporter of CWI) Again… more details to follow.”
As we see it today, the cleanest deal to be found would be for the city of Boise to either sell or donate the land at 2900 Fairview to CWI for a fraction of the $8.8 million the school has agreed to pay. The city land is about the same size, has great access and is already off the tax rolls. It is across the street from the CWI parcel which has a 180 day escape clause in the contract.
Somewhere along the line the officials who entered into all these questionable transactions should admit they are wrong and get on with serving the best interests of students and taxpayers. Digging in their heels will only prolong the agony and increase the distrust they have created among the citizens of both the city and the CWI district.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.