UPDATE - Ada County Highway District has approved closing the portion Jefferson Street between 1 st. and Avenue B. ACHD sided with St. Luke's which wants to expand it's hospital operations.
Would shutting down a portion of Jefferson Street in Boise be in the public's best interest? This, of course, to make room for St. Luke's to build a new hospital tower.
That was question in front of Ada County Highway District commissioners Thursday night.
Two evenings were set aside this week to gather input on the proposed closure, which is the section of Jefferson Street between Avenue B and 1st Street.
The two-block closure was part of the updated master plan for St. Luke's that Boise city council members approved from a land use perspective in 2015.
St. Luke's representatives say a renovation is in order and that they need more room.
"We've proposed some mitigation efforts in the transportation area of the neighborhood that we hope will significantly enhance the motor vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic," said Amy Stahl, communications manager for the St. Luke's hospital.
While in support of upgrades, those with the East End Neighborhood Association believe St. Luke's is looking to build in the wrong direction.
Deanna Smith, a longtime resident in the neighborhood, suggests building the tower on top of the current parking lot, considering a parking garage is also in the works to be built elsewhere.
"We believe that St. Luke's has an excellent opportunity to do exactly what they want to do, in terms of their facility, south... over Bannock, which they purchased many years ago from the city," Smith said. "It's no longer a public street, no longer a right of way, they own the property. It's all their property."
"Ultimately, the standard they're going to be looking for is whether or not the request is in the public's interest," said Craig Quintana, ACHD chief information officer. "And, that's going to be something all five commissioners to determine for themselves."
Thursday, June 23 is the last opportunity to weigh in.
The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. inside the ACHD Auditorium in Garden City.