Boiseans Flock to First Open House for Proposed Downtown Sports Complex 

click to enlarge - Scores of people filed into the Boise Centre to check out plans for the proposed sports complex during First Thursday. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Scores of people filed into the Boise Centre to check out plans for the proposed sports complex during First Thursday.
People started filing into the Boise Centre October 5 well before the First Thursday open house, regarding a proposed west downtown sports complex was supposed to begin. The  event was a chance for the public to get a first glance at proposed designs for facilities, learn about how they might impact everything from traffic to property values, and scope out how the project would be funded.

The battle lines between supporters and opponents of the project, however, were already being formed. Richard Porter, who returned to Boise after living in Seattle, Washington, said traffic, light pollution, noise and disturbance of residential areas were why the idea for the complex would be better placed in "a more central location" away from downtown Boise.

"It's a great idea, but the location is wrong," he said.

Sarah Hansen, who lives in southwest Boise and works for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, echoed many of the same sentiments. She, too, would like to see a development outside the core of the city—one that would have easy car access and not disturb communities.

"They have to create a case that would make [the development] sustainable," she said.

Those in support of the plan talked about its economic benefits. Molly Gardner said she lives half a mile from the site of the proposed stadium, and thought it was a "red herring" that the project would raise taxes. It could also be a personal boon to her.

"I own my house in the area," she said. "I like that my property value will go up."

Lana Odintsova, communications manager for the Boise City community engagement team, said response to the project had been mixed, with the most common concerns on the part of people who came to the event being noise, traffic and lighting; but the development would bring much-needed commerce to a depressed area of downtown where a quarter of buildings in the area showed deterioration and the growth of property values lagged behind other areas of downtown.

"We know that this area is under-utilized," she said. "We anticipate an uptick in economic development."

Those who weren't able to make it to the open house will have other opportunities to explore the proposal and leave comments. Additional open houses are scheduled for Payette Brewing Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 5:30 p.m. and at Boise City Hall from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16. There is also a "digital open house" on the city website, as well as a portal for submitting comments.
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