To vote or not to vote: library and stadium measures proceed to ballot

Boiseans to vote on whether they should have a vote on large city expenditures
Posted at 3:11 PM, May 30, 2019

BOISE — To vote or not to vote... seems to be the question by a group of concerned citizens in Boise. They gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to see who exactly will determine the fate of a new library and stadium project: the city or the people.

While the City of Boise was moving forward with the development of a new library, budgeted to cost $85 million, Boisean David Klinger stopped to question, 'Who has had a say in this? And what about that stadium sports park project-- which would be partly funded by the city?'

"We're talking about major city altering projects that will change the face of downtown," said Klinger.

That's when he became president of Boise Working Together, a group that went door to door collecting signatures across the city.

"Really one of the greatest revelations to us has been how many citizens either had never heard of these projects, or had only received the most basic information about them," said Klinger.

Now, results are in.

"We went through with a fine-toothed comb to make sure," said Phil McGrane, Ada County Clerk.

Getting the initiatives on the ballot would have required 4,962 signatures. They passed.

"In the instance of the stadium petition, they had 5,610 valid signatures. And in the case of the library petition, there was 5,698 valid signatures. Both of those are above the threshold that was required for the number of signatures," said McGrane.

Mayor Dave Bieter has now released a statement, reading, "What we see here is the democratic process at work. I respect the citizen engagement behind it and the passion for our community it represents. Now we will continue the conversation with Boise voters about the main library campus, a project I strongly support as a tremendous asset for economic equality and prosperity for Boise’s future and people."

"At this point what we've done is we've informed the city of that it is now in their hands-- and they'll work through the rest of the process as it approaches going on the ballot in November," said McGrane.

But it's important to note: development hasn't necessarily halted on the projects. And this November, Boiseans will not vote on whether or not they want a library or stadium. Rather:
"It's actually the question of whether or not to approve the initiatives," said McGrane.

"[The ballot measure] merely would obligate the city on future expenditures of money on library and stadium projects to only do so once they had a citizen vote," said Klinger.

In other words, a "vote on a vote:" coming up this November.

Chris Schoen, Managing Principle of Greenstone Properties, says he is hoping voters can discuss the benefits of the project.

“With the community being asked to weigh in on the sports park this November, it is our hope that voters can have a factual conversation about the merits of this project, including what it means for downtown and the revitalization of the West End, the new amenities it will bring to Boise, and how these amenities can bring our community together," Schoen said.