Boise City Council: Fixing the River Sculpture and Revisiting Housing Next to Idaho Shakespeare Festival


The River Sculpture, by Alison Sky, was commissioned in 1999 and gifted to the city of Boise in 2004.
  • The River Sculpture, by Alison Sky, was commissioned in 1999 and gifted to the city of Boise in 2004.

When the Boise City Council convenes Tuesday, Jan. 14, lawmakers will take up two unresolved issues that made headlines in 2013.

In May, 2013 Boise Weekly told you about proposals to fix one of the city's most visible art projects—The River Sculpture that has been embedded into a wall at Boise's Grove Hotel and Capitol and Front streets. The sculpture, commissioned in 1999, was built by Alison Sky and paid for by the Hotel Ownership Group (The Grove) and Capital City Development Corporation. The piece was gifted to the city of Boise in 2004.

But the sculpture has fallen into disrepair, including instances of water leaking into the Grove Hotel's stair tower, water damage to the opposite wall of the sculpture, degradation of the blue background panels, mineral deposits from a water-based fog system, a neon light system that needs ongoing repair or replacement, an inappropriate sidewalk drainage system, and vandalism because architects said the sculpture is "an attractive nuisance relative to its ability to be climbed."

The problem landed in the city of Boise's lap because it was the recipient of the art.

And at a work session slated for this Tuesday, the City Council will be asked to approve a one-time appropriation of $165,000 to fix the sculpture. Additionally, the CCDC and the Grove Hotel have agreed to kick in $35,000 each toward the project.

Meanwhile, the Boise City Council will also be asked to reconsider a controversial plan to develop 12 acres west of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise's East End.

Developers approached landowners Ann and David Triplett in hopes to build a 43-unit residential development on 12 acres of the lane located on East Sawmill Way.

But Shakespeare Festival officials organized a petition campaign last summer, garnering thousands of names attached to a petition urging the city to reject the development. The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission agreed last September, denying a zoning application because the addition of 43 homes to the area would be too many, "given the unique characteristics of surrounding uses."

And now the Tripletts will come before the City Council this Tuesday, asking that the P&Z decision be reversed and arguing that the proposed development fits into the city's comprehensive plan.

City Council members have a lot of homework before Tuesday's session. Of the nearly 2,000-page agenda packet for this week's meeting, the lion's share of the documents concern the proposed development.