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Frosty Meeting Between Boise Council, ACHD: Highway District Still Hasn't Seen St. Luke's Development Plan


  • Kelsey Hawes

In a rare joint meeting between the Boise City Council and Ada County Highway District commissioners at Boise City Hall late Tuesday, the proceedings turned out to be a bit frosty—primarily due to what was missing.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan were absent due to other commitments, but what was really missing was the development agreement being forged by St. Luke's Hospital and the city of Boise regarding the hospital's much-debated Master Plan, which includes the permanent closure of a section of Jefferson Street.

In July 2015, before the Boise City Council gave its final approval to the St. Luke's Master Plan, following a monthslong community debate on the issue, the council insisted on several connectivity conditions, thus triggering a series of meetings between city staff and St. Luke's planners in an effort to come to an agreement that included more options for pedestrians and cyclists and greater access to transit lines.

"I frankly was hopeful we would give everyone a copy of that development agreement, but we have one more meeting scheduled," said Council President Elaine Clegg. "I'm sorry. I wish we had more specifics."

There was little comment from ACHD commissioners, until Commissioner Paul Woods turned to the council with some frustration and said, "We haven't seen this development agreement at all."

That's when Boise Chief of Staff Jade Riley stepped in to tell ACHD commissioners that city staff needed to have "one more check with the St. Luke's team," and the city was hopeful to have something in ACHD's hands by the end of this week.

That wasn't good enough for ACHD Commissioner Rebecca Arnold, who hasn't seen eye-to-eye with City Hall for some time. Arnold expressed disappointment that ACHD commissioners wouldn't have enough time to drill into the complex document before they're asked to determine its fate at their Wednesday, Feb. 17 meeting. 

"We'll have less than two weeks to review this document before we're asked to act on it. Is that correct?" Arnold asked.

Clegg told Arnold that once the document was in ACHD's hands, they always had the choice to approve, disapprove or delay the process.

"We always have the opportunity to not make a decision. I suspect, knowing the personalities on the [ACHD] commission, you would not be shy to make that decision," said Clegg.

The same meeting included an overview from ACHD Program Administrator Christy Little, who outlined a possible timetable for four massive construction phases that could begin as early as December, revamping the St. Luke's campus and surrounding streets. That would include the proposed closure of a portion of Jefferson Street, something ACHD will have the final say on.