Vista neighborhood residents were dismayed two years ago when plans were announced to build a massive apartment complex along Victory road east of the Vista hill leading to the airport.
Now the Vista neighborhood president is justifiably upset to learn Boise officials failed to share the news with the VNA when the owners of the 60 acre parcel contacted Boise Parks offering to make a deal for a park After plans for a massive apartment complex fell through.
By Henry Wiebe, President
Vista Neighborhood Association
In my opinion, the community “partnership” between the City of Boise and the Vista Neighborhood Association (VNA) is currently in search of an adjective (you get to choose the adjective at the end of this story).
Last week I obtained documents/emails from the City of Boise via PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS.
I am presenting this question in the spirit of “Energize”, because I want to inspire community engagement to get involved, and for the City to work with our community in an open and transparent way.
My Investigation begins…
Marko “Butch” Simunich passed away July 22, 2016. His family farm (60+/- acres) on the Boise Bench, below the New York Canal, near Vista Ave represents an overwhelming opportunity for development.
Late in November 2016, Dave Kangus (former VNA President) sent me an email stating his awareness of Mr Simunich’s passing, and noted Conger Management Group had a contract to purchase the farm. The details were scarce, and rumors raced. Some say Mr Simunich wanted a baseball field.
Early June 2017, Kangus shared his knowledge that the agreement with Conger failed. Reasons and specifics unknown.
Five month later, on October 23, 2017 Andy Mehl / A&M Siminuch LLP, which owns the family farm, contacted Doug Holloway (Boise Parks Director). Mr Mehl asked Mr Holloway via email if the City of Boise would be interested in discussions that included splitting the property and making a park. “Before it is sold to residential development, we are interested in talking to the city.”
Holloway emailed the Mayor’s office same day.
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The FOIA trail goes cold here. There’s no answer via email from the Mayor, and no record of reply back to A&M Siminuch either.
23 days later, another thread emerges via email between Mr Mehl and Jennifer Tomlinson, Parks and Rec Superintendent.
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This thread ends without clarity, just like the previous. It appears that Mrs Tomlinson was asking about the price, and Mr. Mehl restated their intention to sell and checking to see what interest the City of Boise has in it.
Six months later, May 1, 2018, A&M Simunich makes application to split the property (permit ROS18-00045). The Vista Neighborhood Association was not notified of the split for reasons found in the nuances of the type of split performed. And no one from the City felt it important to call or email the VNA because they weren’t legally required to do so.
As of today, this application is on hold because of a Simunich family lawsuit moving through the courts. I am not sure when this is expected to be resolved.
I became the VNA President in 2018. This story sprang into my focus after my phone call with David Moser, Associate Planner with Boise City. David was the 5th Boise City employee to contact the VNA seeking our annual report, which wasn’t due for two more weeks. The penchant need for our report left me wondering, so I called him. In our chat, I was sharing the overwhelming responsibility of keeping up on development notices, zoning changes, and hearing dates (the VNA received over 40 in 2018). Mr Moser advised me to triage and keep an eye on bigger issues, like the “Simunich” parcel. In response, I asked Mr Moser who currently owns the farm, and what did he know about it? He said very little. He peaked my interest. This is when I made the records request to the City of Boise to learn more.
So here we are. Still mostly in the dark, and forcing our way to become informed. I feel disappointed to learn the City of Boise was asked years ago if they’d like to buy it, and zero communication on this matter included the VNA. It begs the question, as a Neighborhood Association, what purpose do we serve? How are we partners with the City of Boise?
When the potential for a park surfaces, shouldn’t we be included in the conversation(s). Obviously we don’t have money to pay for it, but we’re told to get involved because we’re stakeholders. It stings to learn about these sorts of opportunities AFTER the fact. When this happens, it renders community participation apathetic and uninspired.
Which adjectives would you choose to describe the partnership between the City of Boise and VNA? Perhaps “MUSHROOM”…fed horse pucky and kept in the dark!”
SEE LETTER to Vista residents
February 18th, 2019
Simunich Farm / Potential For A New Public Park
Open Letter To: Vista Neighborhood Residences, All of Boise and Elected Officials:
As infill projects and farm ground turn into parking lots and driveways, open space in Boise is disappearing at an exponential rate. For decades the VNA and membership have established groundwork for a park at the Simunich Farm, located East of Vista Ave and South of Canal St..
“Planned Neighborhood Park: The Comprehensive
Park and Rec System Plan supports the purchase and
improvement of a neighborhood park on the east side
of Vista.” (pg. 3-22, Vista Vision Neighborhood Plan,
What you need to know: The Simunich Family has
honored this vision by reaching out to the City of Boise in an attempt to make a deal for a
public park. In response, the Mayor declined to enter into conversations with the family or the VNA on this very important issue. (It was through a Public Records Request that we learned of this).
Community benefits: Parks provide for the well-being of a community. According to several research studies, parks raise property values and provide revenue; businesses make relocation decisions based on the availability of parks and recreation services; parks promote physical health and reduce stress; parks increase the livability factor of an area; parks encourage social interaction; parks provide equal access to citizens despite economic differences; park involvement can lower crime/vandalism; and the majority of voters will approve bonds to acquire parks/conserve open space showing their overwhelming
As a result, it’s up to US, the citizens of BOISE. Now is the time to raise awareness for this matter; now is the time to request that the Mayor retrain his focus and place it back onto the planned needs of the community to keep our city livable in this crucial developmental stage.
Please text your email address to us @ (208)850-000, or send us an email
([email protected]) to stay informed for the call to action.
VNA Board of Directors
1 Research from the National Recreation and Park Association:
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