Saving Gowen Field, Vista Neighborhood Project, Fire Bond Steal Mayor Bieter's State of The City Address

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The failure of three popular bond initiatives and ACHD bringing its experiment with buffered bike lanes to an end aren't keeping Boise Mayor Dave Bieter down.

In his State of the City address Friday morning, the mayor wasn't looking at the disappointments in 2013 and the first half of 2014—he looked forward to imagining Gowen Field in a post-A10 Warthog world, a renewed fire services bond initiative and a neighborhood-by-neighborhood community census that has already begun in the Vista neighborhood. 

"The only thing in our way is a failure of imagination," he said. 

In 2013, a bond initiative that would have funded new fire facilities for the city narrowly failed despite a 64 percent support level; Bieter told a packed Boise Centre auditorium that he would resurrect the $17 million bond. But instead of asking taxpayers to directly fund the bond, Bieter unveiled a plan for the city of Boise to service the bond through the city coffers—an initiative that would require a two-thirds majority for passage at the polls. 

"We know that Boise voters were willing to invest in the future and tax themselves to do it," Bieter said. 

Bieter also pointed to an ongoing Energize our Neighborhoods initiative already under way in the Vista neighborhood that draws community members and city leaders together to gather data on an unprecedented scale and source the community for ways to improve city services. One of the features of the initiative is also to implement an early childhood education plan, citing evidence that points to greater economic activity and lower crime rates among those who receive early childhood education.

And while he called for Boise to help find a "new mission" for Gowen Field, the mayor cited successes at the Boise Airport, where a new traffic control tower has been dedicated, new flight services have been added in 2013 and 2014, and the addition of a maintenance facility for SkyWest. That facility, located within the Jackson Jet Center, will involve an estimated $20 million in capital investment and create an estimated 800-1,000 jobs. 

"This is exciting news for our local economy and further evidence of the importance of Boise airport in driving job expansion and new investment in our community," Bieter said.