Getting Specific: Boise's Vista Neighborhood 

"This has huge potential. This has to be the new model for us to work with neighborhoods."

Vista neighborhood residents were more than anxious to participate in the June 9 workshop.

Patrick Sweeney

Vista neighborhood residents were more than anxious to participate in the June 9 workshop.

AnaMarie Guiles looked at her watch: It was 6:45 p.m. Then, she looked out the door of the Whitney Community Center to see the gorgeous early summer evening that begged people to be anywhere but inside on June 9.

"I really hope we have a turnout tonight." said Guiles, city of Boise Housing and Community Development manager. "I'm a little nervous."

She had no reason to worry. By 7 p.m. scores of citizens from every corner of the Vista neighborhood had streamed through the door to see if what the city had promised about the so-called "Energize Our Neighborhoods Initiative" was true (BW, News, "A New Way to Look at Boise," April 9, 2014.)

"We talk a lot at City Hall about Boise being the most livable city in the country. That sounds great, but what does that mean?" asked Guiles.

Minutes later, she stood before a packed room and told the gathering that the city had little desire to "impose things on you."

"We're here to listen to you about what you think makes a livable neighborhood," she said. "Maybe it's safety, access to transportation, more opportunities for kids."

But she kept her remarks short. It was all about listening on this particular evening. The neighbors then gravitated to one of eight tables that framed the back and sides of the room.

"We have eight focus areas: children and youth, arts and history, sustainability, housing, crime, community services, transportation and economic development," Guiles told BW. "After tonight, we'll be meeting with the neighborhood watch, business owners, a number of groups. We'll come back to the neighborhood association a couple of times this summer. And then we need to get a solid plan, a commitment, by this fall."

But Guiles said she's not a fan of well-written plans that sit on the shelf.

"It's all about executing the plan," she said. "I expect entire implementation in the next one to three years."

And through the course of 90 minutes, attendees talked about housing, traffic, programs for kids, more green space and public safety.

"This has huge potential," Boise Police Department Deputy Chief William Bones told BW. "This has to be the new model for us to work with neighborhoods."

Indeed, that's the plan, said Guiles.

"I'm overwhelmed by the support," she said by evening's end.

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