The silence was awkward at best, grim at worst. When Boise Mayor Dave Bieter stared daggers across the Boise City Council chambers at St. Luke's representatives Oct. 4, the team tasked with selling lawmakers on the hospital's master plan braced for what would be some ringing criticism from hizzoner.
"Boy, this is not what I had hoped for or consistent with our previous discussions. I expected to see more than this," said Bieter. "I'm disappointed in this piece."
Bieter was particularly disappointed in what St. Luke's officials proposed for Bannock Street, the vital element in a compromise that eventually won enough support from the council for the hospital to embark on a $400 million expansion of its downtown campus.
At the height of the 2015 debate over the expansion, St. Luke's agreed to surrender a 28-foot-wide easement on a stretch of Bannock Street—the same stretch that had been closed to the public during a previous expansion.
"The trade-off was that Bannock would come back for public use," said Bieter, who roundly criticized St. Luke's for proposing Bannock Street not change much at all from its current configuration.
"That's my biggest problem, my biggest disappointment," he said. "We worked so hard for this easement, hoping that it would be a different space—a whole lot more like the Basque Block and a whole lot less than a courtyard, which is what it is now."
Councilwoman Lauren McLean was more succinct.
"I was also hoping to see more. It's underwhelming," she deadpanned.
St. Luke's Project Manager Mark Bowen kept arguing for what the hospital's team was proposing.
"It's a straighter path. It's wider, more inviting," said Bowen.
Bieter was having none of it.
"Please bring us some other alternatives. You've worked hard and done well in other areas. I fundamentally believe in fairness to this whole process and this is not it," said Bieter.
With that, the St. Luke's Master Plan team promised to hold another workshop with Boise city leaders, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 1.