Boise Officials: $350,000 Already Set Aside to 'Accommodate' The Cabin in Library Expansion 

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  • City of Boise
City of Boise officials have added another chapter to the ever-evolving story of their ambitious plans for a new $80 million to $85 million main library. Following a series of open houses across the network of library branches (attracting more than 350 attendees) and soliciting comments on a number of web platforms (600-plus comments were submitted by more than 450 people), officials with the mayor's office, library and Arts and History department said their level of optimism was still "extremely high" about the possibility of a new 115,000-square-foot library campus on Capitol Boulevard.

To keep pushing that effort forward, city officials said Tuesday it was important for them to update the public on two key issues that emerged during the recent open houses: the fate of The Cabin and more details on public parking near the library. During the open houses and public comment period in July, 47 percent of attendees and commenters said the fate of The Cabin was their top concern and 33 percent said parking was at the top of their list of worries.

In the initial artist renderings of the proposed library, unveiled in late June, The Cabin was nowhere to be seen, due to a dramatic expansion of the library's campus. But city officials said Tuesday that they'd begun meeting with The Cabin's board of directors and its Executive Director, Kurt Zwolfer, as early as March, and had met as recently as late July about what accommodations should be made for The Cabin. Simply put, the big question continues to be: Should the unique reading center be moved to another location that its board approves? Or should The Cabin stay at its current locations, with new accommodations to give the public greater connectivity between the library and the Boise Greenbelt?

"This isn't really a matter of one of these options being 'Plan A' and the other being 'Plan B,'" said Library Director Kevin Booe. "We're looking at both of them as 'alternative accommodations' for The Cabin."

If The Cabin were to be moved, city officials said they already have a pretty good idea of its new location after consulting with The Cabin's board of directors. That alternative would see The Cabin moved over to Julia Davis Park on a large parcel of land behind a statue of Abraham Lincoln and next to the Black History Museum. A pedestrian pathway linking 5th Street to The Cabin would be improved, and a 5th Street vehicle entrance would accommodate a small parking lot behind The Cabin. The 5th Street entrance would not serve as a separate entrance to the park, though—it would only link to The Cabin parking lot. The map below details the proposal.
Whether The Cabin is moved to Julia Davis Park or whether it stays on its current site on Capitol Boulevard with some modifications, city officials told Boise Weekly that they've already earmarked funds for The Cabin project. In fact, $350,000 was added to the recently passed city budget to cover expenses associated with The Cabin, as part of the overall library construction spending plan.

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Meanwhile, city officials said they think they've already got an answer for the many people who asked where visitors to the new library will park, especially since the original artist renderings didn't include any parking. The city announced Tuesday that it is working with the Boise-based Wilcomb family, which owns the large building on 5th Street that currently houses the private Foothills School of Arts and Sciences. If all goes as planned, The Foothills School will relocate, the property will be redeveloped into a multi-story structure and the City of Boise will purchase three decks (approximately 250-300 spaces) of parking there at the corner of 8th and River streets. The property is outlined in red on the map below.
As for the immediate future, the man behind the design for the library, renowned architect Moshe Safdie, will be back in Boise for a public lecture set for Friday, Sept. 21. The location and details will be announced soon. City officials said they will also launch another round of open houses to get more public input this fall.
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