City Government

More Library Concerns

One of our GUARDIAN researchers combed through the contract for the architecture services on the library and some items raise red flags just as the first class travel expenses did prior to obtaining permission and funding from Boise citizens for the project.

Of particular concern to the GUARDIAN is a clause that allows Moshe Safdie to retain ownership of the plans despite the fact the work is (or should be) “work for hire” with the city retaining copyright ownership.

Overall, it appears the contract favors Safdie’s firm and many obligations have been made prior to final approval.

Don Day at BOISEDEV has also done some “in the trenches” reporting which shows timing and decisions on the project are simply suspect at best.

Here are some items our researcher found in the contract:

–“If the event space moves forward… an amendment will be required” (so more $$$ to Safdie for events space at a later date)
— $11.1 million total includes $715,950 in reimbursable expenses and allowances (definition outlined on P24, includes travel)
— lists “supplemental services” not included in the contract. To be included by Architect: Line Furniture, furnishings, and equipment design.

–Architect retains copyright of drawings
–Architect retains marketing rights to finished project (future sales lectures to include “look how I remade Boise!”?)
–Architect will bill monthly based on work performed
–initial breakdown of total project costs (theater not included in $85 million budget)
–Safdie breakdown of hourly billing rates (Safdie himself bills at $560/hour; principal Architect at $390/hour)
–CSHQA breakdown of hourly billing rates (Principal Architect at $145-175/hour)

This project has gotten so big that the December 4 council agenda and supplemental documents was in excess of 2,000 pages–far more than any councilor could possible consume prior to voting.

We suspect the city fathers and mothers will have invested so much of our tax money already, the argument will be made that “to stop now is a waste of money.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Somebody should start a pool guessing how much this boondoggle may actually end up costing and all the damage it will do — Factoring in potential cost overruns on the Library, the Parking Garage, the Cabin relocation …

    And then the damage to the bits of nature left in this area. I’m betting they’ll cut down the trees all along the river so the Glass Monstrosity has an unimpeded view of water. There will also be many Dead songbirds from collisions with the Glass Monstrosity right by the river. Not to mention many other big environmental costs – like the carbon and other pollution footprints from building a humongous new edifice when there is a perfectly good library that people like using and being in — where additional space could readily be created by adding a couple of new floors. Oh, that’s right – this will all be taken care of with Bieter’s new “green” Initiative, or “be kind” initiative, or whatever the latest mantle is they try to cloak themselves in.

  2. E.B. Schofield
    Jan 10, 2019, 9:00 pm

    David – this question for you is related to the library project via financial issues.

    In all of your dedicated years of watching and reporting on the City, have you come upon many instances where the City simply gave away surplus property without any effort to receive any monetary compensation?

    I ask this because the recent Boise City Council Meeting (01/8/2019) had a resolution for donating a 2006 fire engine to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. It has a stated value of $11,800 but the resolution (RES-1-19) says, ‘Boise Fire Department has no practical, efficient, or appropriate use of this surplus engine and transfer without consideration or payment would be in the best interest of the greater public good.” I realize Idaho Code allows this, but I question how the City can deem this is in the best interest of the greater public good?

    EDITOR NOTE–It is legal. Initial info has the rig as a rebuild for a sheriff’s SWAT or similar emergency support truck. Will try to post a story on it.

  3. What has happened?

    Isn’t there ANYBODY on the City Council who has empathy for common ordinary citizen/taxpayers?

    Millions and millions just for some highfalutin ARCHITECT? Taxpayer money that’s been spent, whether or not the project even goes forward?

    I have no doubt that the city would be just a little bit nicer with a sparkling new library/showplace on the river. (And a downtown trolley, baseball stadium, bike lanes on every road, etc., etc., etc.) BUT AT WHAT COST? The saying comes to mind, “It’s amazing what you can do, when you’re spending somebody else’s money!!”

    Even if it’s legal, it’s reprehensible. There’s no longer ANYBODY in a position of power in city government, who understands fiscal responsibility. (These people should all be working for the FEDERAL government!)

    Please, oh please please PLEASE!!! Can we have some competent, fiscally conservative candidates for mayor and council? I’m a lifelong (65 years) Boise resident, and if you’ll make yourself available, I’ll vote for you and campaign for you. I am disgusted!!!

  4. Given change orders will likely run 15-20% there will be a lot more money going to the architect directly that what you state.

    I have never seen a more one sided contract that benefits those getting the money….not those paying the money.

  5. When Safdie came to town to lecture us on his building he said he would save only 3 trees. I can’t figure out which 3 he is thinking of but the suburban landscape pictured in the drawings turns my stomach. He also suggested some sort of sound inaudible to humans be used to deter birds from striking the windows. No indication of what that would cost! and/or how it would affect other wildlife …

  6. Maybe attending would open eyes
    Jan 11, 2019, 10:11 am


    Dwaine Carver, Acting President
    Denise Baird, Trustee
    Margo Healy, Trustee
    Tonya Westenskow, Trustee
    Vacant Position
    Mae Davis, Youth Trustee
    Sage Warner, Youth Trustee

    Board Structure & Responsibilities

    Municipal libraries and their governing boards are established and operate under the Idaho Code, Chapter 26, Sections 33-2602 to 33-2608. The Boise City Code, Chapter 2 Section 4, specifically outlines the ordinances governing the Boise Public Library. All members of the Board are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council.

    Ordinance number 5942, passed by Boise City Council September 28, 1999, empowers the Mayor to appoint a youth member to Boise City Department Boards. The youth member appointee to the Library Board is a nonvoting member.

    The Library Board sets policy for the operation of the public library. By law, Library Boards in Idaho are responsible, rather than advisory, boards.

    The Library Board is composed of five Boise City residents representing a cross section of community interests. Each voting Board appointment is for five years with a maximum service limit by an individual of ten consecutive years. A Board President and Vice President are elected annually from and by the Board and serve one-year terms in office.

    Library Board Meeting Schedule

    The regular monthly meeting of the Boise Public Library Board of Trustees is scheduled for the second Thursday of each month at 11:30 a.m. in the Main Library’s Marion Bingham Room on the third floor of the library. Note that times, dates and location are subject to change.

  7. I am sure Mayor Bieter has the right to declare a “city emergency” to build a new public library regardless of these ‘concerns’.

    He will state there are homeless people living in the Library!, there are people using drugs in and near the current Library!, there are teenagers planning gang activity there, there are corrupt people using the internet at our public Library!
    If only we could build a 12 million dollar monster with new security and cameras, we can make a big, buuuuu-tiful library for all other cities to criticize.

    He may pull money and personnel from the police department and build a new library regardless of the consensus of the people.

    He may do it. He has the right to do it. He is the King, oops, I mean mayor.

    SO if the vote doesn’t work out, he probably will do it.
    Or almost definitely.
    “Maybe, Probably, almost definitely. certainly”…

    See it???

    Yes, this is all ridiculous.
    But just like the trolley, and roads to nowhere, when a politician or agency, at any level, gets set on a ridiculous project it is difficult to change their goals.

  8. If I blank out the names when I read the above scripts it could be set in the White house. Once a politician is elected to office they become an elected public SERVANT. Their paychecks come from the Public. THEIR SPIFFS COME FROM THEIR LOBBYISTS. As elected public servants denie input from the public, in their decision making processes, THEIR SPIFFS KICK

  9. More and more this seems like a repeat of the rush job and poor management of the fire station construction process.

    Wasn’t the budget for fire station bond election like $17 million? Now with the construction cost overruns it might be another $17 million or more to build the remaining stations. Some of those “urgently needed” new fire stations may never get built so the City can have a new library.

  10. E. B. Schofield
    Jan 11, 2019, 7:58 pm

    Cost overruns on governmental projects nearly always occur, and the same wil most likley apply for the library project. The bond proposal was a new fire training facility (which is not a station) plus four existing fire station locations to be remodeled, rebuilt, or relocated; price tag of $17 million. This past summer, the Idaho Statesman (08/29/18) reported that the City now estimates the five projects to cost more than $34 million.

    Original Costs Proposed In Bond:
    * Fire Training Facility – $6.8 million; resulted in approx. $12.2 million.
    * Station 4 – $2.8 million rebuild; resulted in cost of $4.9 million.
    * Station 5 – $2.8 million rebuild; now estimated at $6.4 million.
    * Station 8 – $3.4 million relocation, resulted in cost of $5.1 million. Station moved east a half mile specifically to reduce gaps in service coverage area; this has improved response times by an average of 33 seconds, which matters if you’ve had a heart attack or can’t breathe as stated by Chief Doan in the Statesman article.
    * Station 9 – $1.2 million remodel; has become a full rebuild at estimate of $5.5 million.

    Not a single fire station in the Public Safety Bond was a NEW station – as in brand new location to expand capacity to serve the explosive development growth that has occurred in the City, and the expansion of the City limits via annexations. The City has not constructed a brand new station to serve an entirely new area since 2011-12 with Station 12 at Harris Ranch.

  11. western guy
    Jan 12, 2019, 5:12 pm

    RE: E.B. Schofield’s item:

    Hey, shiny toys need new bricks and mortar buildings. And BFD doesn’t have to expand territory: the BFD union owns North Ada County Fire and Rescue (formerly Cole-Collister) and Whitney fire districts.

    How does the union ‘own’ these two districts? Both districts contract with the Boise Fire Dept to staff the stations. And the Boise Fire Union reaps the benefits.

  12. As a self-employed Boisean, the overall obsession with an out of state “starchitect” is dissapointing, the fees are salt in the wounds to local firms who most certainly could have designed a new library.

    The design submitted by Safdie isn’t even that interesting to me… or at least it’s a far cry from his famed Olympic housing in Montreal. There are some fundamental questions regarding the design I find perplexing — does he not know how insanely hot and sunny Boise gets in the summer… why would you face all those windows to the south? Next up, the library is supposed to embrace the woods and the river space, thus requiring the movement of the Cabin. I don’t really care that the Cabin would be moved, but the recently expanded Anne Frank Memorial doesn’t seem helpful in embracing the woods and river… more like an obstacle.

    Finally my biggest beef is regarding the parking situation. I personally am very tired of the parking garage architecture popping up all over the city. It seems to be Boise’s primary contribution to vertical construction at the moment. Since there would be space for an onsite garage, as Biomark leases the space that could have been uses… the owners of the Foothill School building intend to rebuild a massive 5 story parking garage there. So the plan is to spend millions of dollars on an “architectually important” library that faces a parking garage? That is pure stupidity.

    I say sell the parcel, let private developers put in much needed housing. Then build the new library in a less controversial site, such as the West End, using local architects. Or let U of I students design it, even better. Safdie himself was either in or just graduating school when he designed the Olympic housing that started his career.

  13. E.B. Schofield
    Jan 13, 2019, 1:45 pm

    “Owning” these districts via a Joint Powers Agreement and expanding the City limits by annexing multiple hundreds of acres of land (in other fire district’s turf), without constructing additional facilities to provide equal protection and benefits leads to inequities in tax and fee supported municipal services.

  14. I don’t support the idea of a big giant library.
    I would support a big giant Boise Art Museum.

    An art museum can always use more space and display great exhibitions. Imagine Boise being known for one the top art museums in the country- that brings tourists, money, and activities.

    A small library system that is very dynamic with digital resources and knowledge in a small footprint with the ‘Off-Site’ storage of all those thousands of ‘never- used’ books.

    A first-class art museum is a treasure for any city.

    A large library (1 block away from BSU library) in modern times is an expensive waste of space.

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