Don Kemper, chief executive officer of Healthwise, said there was "almost a collective gasp in the community" when a for sale sign sprang up at Harrison Hollow. The 58 acres, with a trailhead literally at Healthwise's back door, is a gateway to some 400 acres of natural open space in the Boise Foothills.
"I get some of my best ideas out on that trail," Kemper told Citydesk.
Kemper sang the praises of the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley, which on April 21, unveiled its plans to raise $580,000 and purchase Harrison Hollow.
"The great news is that we're already 60 percent toward that goal," said Tim Breuer, executive director of LTTV. The total includes $101,000 earmarked for what Breuer called a "stewardship fund," including $21,000 for initial trail improvements and signage and $80,000 for a permanent endowment. Investments from the endowment are intended to fund future maintenance and operation expenses for the trail.
Breuer negotiated the sale with the Fred Bagley family, owners of the land for more than a half century.
"In all those years, my dad and our family never put a fence up," said Diane Bagley.
She spoke candidly that only five years ago, her family's company, Highlands Inc., considered commercial development for Harrison Hollow.
"I was the guilty party," said Bagley. "We were considering a mini storage facility. Fortunately, the company decided that it wasn't right, and we put the land up for sale."
Bagley said they had two prime contenders for the land, a commercial developer and LTTV. She took the offers to her father.
"He looked me in the eye and said, 'The Land Trust offer probably isn't as much money, but I'd sure like to see that land go to the people,'" Bagley recounted.
LTTV has a deadline of Dec. 6 to close the deal.
"But if we hit our target before then, we'll snap it up and close the deal sooner," Breuer told Citydesk.
When and if LTTV becomes the new owner of Harrison Hollow, it plans to put together a land management advisory committee to guide future actions.
The LTTV board is also considering a deed restriction that would keep the Land Trust from selling off parts of the property for any future development. LTTV is also discussing the possibility of selling the land to the City of Boise in the future, but the trust is prepared to hold and own the property in perpetuity.
"With this, we're going to capture the land forever," said Kemper.