In blink-and-you'll-miss-them alterations to Boise's landscape, two more changes surrounding two high-profile proposals will move to the forefront in the coming weeks: one involves the undeveloped eight-acre site where Franklin Elementary School once stood, and the other has to do with the heavily traveled Main Street/Fairview Avenue corridor, connecting the downtown core to the Boise Connector and points west.
In 1905, the Boise Independent School District built Franklin Elementary on the corner of Franklin Road and Orchard Street. The school stood for more than a century before it was torn down in January 2010. The city of Boise desperately wanted the location for a new park and, in 2013, turned to Boise voters, asking them to approve a wide-reaching bond measure that would have included a $760,000 purchase of the land from the school district. The bond failed, but the school district came back to the city and offered to sell three of the 7.7 acres for $395,000 with an option to buy the remaining land for $1.24 million. The city attempted to find a non-profit partner to help fund the purchase of the remaining space, but none materialized. Instead, the school board put the remaining 4.7 acres up for auction. Maverik, Inc. was the top bidder, purchasing the land for approximately $1.3 million in January 2015.
A few days later, the Central Bench Neighborhood Association wrote a letter to the city, saying it "was very disappointed to see that Maverik Inc. had purchased this property to develop yet another gas station/convenience store."
Maverik officials began a charm offensive, launching a website promising its Franklin/Orchard project was "the best alternative" for the site because of the company's "willingness to invest in the area and keep the neighborhood a great place to live and play." In a letter to Maverik's new neighbors, company Vice President of Real Estate Lance Dunkley said the new store would be "a safe, attractive place where residents can refresh and refuel on their way to and from the park."
- Google Maps
- The ACHD open house for the Fairview/Main Project begins 5:30 p.m., Thursday June 2.
One outstanding issue remains, however. There is no park. So, gas station or not, city of Boise officials want to begin developing the city's three acres.
In August 2015, Central Bench residents were already attending workshops asking the question, "What kind of park do you want?" Neighbors suggested everything from a splash pad, to tennis courts to a community center.
"What our outcome will be, we're not exactly sure," said Toby Norton, parks resource manager for Boise Parks and Recreation. "It'll be fun to see what all is generated out of this."
Apparently the city is ready to present some of its early-stage conceptual designs for the park. The public is invited to give input on the conceptual designs at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, at the Library at Hillcrest, 5246 W. Overland Road.
Meanwhile, the Ada County Highway District is also inviting the public to an open house where it will ask citizens to "shape your streets." Specifically, ACHD is looking at the possible reconfiguration of travel lanes on Fairview Avenue and Main Street between Whitewater Park Boulevard and 16th Street in what it calls the Fairview/Main Project.
The proposal, if implemented, could reduce the number of vehicle lanes, shore up bicycle lanes on both roads and possibly add more on-street parking.
The ACHD open house for the Fairview/Main Project begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 2201 Woodlawn Ave. For anyone unable to attend, ACHD promises to share details on achdidaho.org by Friday, June 3.