BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is reviewing a proposal that would swap land in southwest Boise for land in the foothills and some southwest Boise residents are coming together to share their opinion on the proposal.
The Murgoitio land in southwest Boise, located between S. Cole Rd. and S. Maple Grove Road, is 160 acres and currently used for farming. Under the proposal, the City of Boise would give up ownership of this land for 250 acres in the foothills.
Although the city purchased the Murgoitio land in the 1990s, it’s not part of the City of Boise, it’s unincorporated Ada County land. Initially the city planned for the land to be annexed into the City of Boise along with the rest of southwest Boise. They would then develop the land into a regional park with sports fields and other green space.
The current land swap proposal would create homes priced below the median in Ada County and Boise, and a seven acre park rather than the 160 acres originally planned for the site.
David King, one of the people who created the nonprofit Friends of Murgoitio Park, said people came together quickly to show they don't support the proposal after receiving flyers in the mail, inviting them to a neighborhood meeting.
“Friends of Murgoitio Park came together quickly when we started receiving notices from the city that says they’re going to do a land swap here and take this property away that they’ve been promising since 1997. And as flyers were landing in our mailboxes, we put together the nonprofit to fight against this thing and to preserve the property for it’s intended purpose," he said.
That intended purpose, set in the late 90s, was for the 160-acre land to be developed into a park, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Although Boise purchased the Murgoitio land, it’s not within city limits. This means the land would have to be annexed into the City of Boise in order to turn it into a park. Up until now, the city hadn’t made any plans to do that yet and now officials are re-evaluating.
“When you have an asset like this park property, I think the council is always looking at what’s the highest and best use,” said Doug Holloway, director of Boise Parks and Recreation.
He said the highest and best use may have changed since the 90s.
With a Facebook page that has more than 1,000 followers, David King said Friends of Murgoitio Park should be taken seriously.
“We’ve got an astronomical impact on social media right now, this is not a couple of angry people out in the community just trying to fight against a project so there’s not any parking on their street. We have an enormous impact right now and it’s only growing,” King said.
The developer who made the proposal wants to remind people it’s only a proposal.
“It is far from being a done deal," said Doug Fowler, a project manager for Harris Family Limited Partnership.
He also said the number of homes and size of the park in the proposal isn’t final yet.
“We look forward to conversations with the neighbors and stakeholders,” Fowler said.
As Boise Dev reported, Boise mayor Lauren Mclean says she and city council will make sure any land swap is worth it for Boise residents. Both she and Council President, Elaine Clegg emphasized the Boise resident part in interviews with Boise Dev.
This is a point King is not a fan of.
“All of these areas were developed in reliance on this promised park. And now they’re going to say, “well you people can’t vote so forget it. We’re gonna cram another 2,400 homes in here to make Harris happy.” that’s not gonna fly. We don’t have a vote right now, maybe we will in the future,” King said.
The next steps in this process come at the Boise City Council's July 20 meeting where they'll consider two resolutions related to the proposed land swap. One would to remove the restrictions on the land, which were put in place when the city bought the land.
If Council chooses to pass this resolution, the city would have to reimburse the Boise Airport for the original purchase price of the land at $620,000, according to the city's "Murgoitio Property Annexation" presentation from June 17.
The presentation details the airport bought the land from the Murgoitio family in 1992. The following year, City Council passed a resolution declaring its intent to "reserve the property for park and recreation purposes." A few years later, the airport placed restrictions on the land including no residential development, no commercial or industrial uses, and the property must be used as open space for a park, sports activity or farming.
The other resolution City Council will consider at the end of the month would set a public hearing about the proposed land swap for August.