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Valuable Dump

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With the value of land increasing around Boise, the Idaho Department of Lands is looking at what revenue a seven-acre lot near the Boise Airport might bring in.

The department has asked for $300,000 to begin an environmental study of the aptly named Airport Seven, located just east of the airport runway. The parcel is state endowment land, and revenue from the land goes to support various state institutions, including public schools.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter made the request part of his budget proposal, which he presented to the State Legislature earlier this year.

George Bacon, director of the Department of Lands, said the acreage has been part of the state endowment since statehood but has never played much of an auspicious role in the area.

The former rock pit was used as a dump by the city of Boise in the 1940s and 1950s, a use Bacon said was common at the time.

The pit/dump was eventually covered up and the city grew around the area once considered to be on the outskirts of town.

Now, it's in a prime location in a growing area, and the state wants to know just what has to be done before the potentially valuable land can be sold.

"We're doing a full assessment identifying what's there," Bacon said.

That assessment will include digging monitoring wells to see just what's been buried, and what effect it's having on ground water.

"We don't want to just go in and start digging," he said.

Bacon's department has already done the historical research phase of the analysis, and he estimates it will take several years to finish the environmental assessment. Then, if needed, the department will look at what needs to be done to clean up the site.

So, what could be in the future for a former dump near the airport? Bacon said a number of interested buyers have approached the state over the years, and he said it has the potential to become a convention center or additional airport parking.