Boise Preparing to Set Up New Open Space Citizen Advisory Committee 

click to enlarge KELSEY HAWES
  • Kelsey Hawes

In the wake of Boise's overwhelming approval of the 2015 Foothills Open Space and Boise River Levy, which attracted turnouts of more than 40 percent of registered voters in some parts of the city, officials are poised to write the next chapter in the protection of what the levy referred to as "critical open space."

"And I think those three words—critical open space—are ultimately important," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, implying levy funds should not be limited to protection of the Boise Foothills or Boise River. "That really opens up the possibilities."

With that, Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway briefed Bieter and the Boise City Council Jan. 26 on the current status of the Boise Foothills Levy, triggered by approval from city voters in 2001. The fund still has approximately $1.3 million left and, according to Holloway, most of that money should be used in the coming months through three possible new acquisitions, currently in negotiations. Holloway told the council he expected to have a formal proposal to put before lawmakers "as soon as the next few weeks."

While city officials are anxious to look at new acquisitions, the first order of business is to establish a new citizens advisory committee, which will work with lawmakers to recommend future purchases. Holloway suggested a committee of nine members, but Bieter struggled with that number, saying it might be too high. Holloway reminded hizzoner the Parks and Recreation Commission is composed of nine citizens, but agreed the committee would probably have no fewer than seven but no more than nine members.

More important, Holloway suggested the following timeline to put the committee together:
  • February: An open call for applicants;
  • March: Bieter interviews potential candidates;
  • April: Council approval of committee members;
  • June: An inaugural committee meeting;
  • September: An all-day work session, laying the groundwork for the first round of possible new acquisitions.
Levy funds will be available for use beginning in January 2017, at which time Holloway indicated he wanted the citizens committee and council ready to consider the first possible acquisitions. As worded, the levy allows up to $10 million through 2017 and 2018, coming in six month increments each January and June. 

Holloway said it was ultimately important the committee have geographic diversity and a mix of  expertise in conservation, finance and real estate.
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