Thursday, May 22, 2014

Growth, Connectivity and Equity

Boise is known as one of America's most livable cities. We agree. We enjoy a rich cultural landscape, access to recreation of all kinds, and a city that has been focused on what local government calls 'core connectivity.' This means residents from the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown core can get in and out easily—whether cycling, walking, driving or even using a wheelchair—without too much trouble or risk.

A growing number of Boise residents are asking tough questions about the consistency of St. Luke's proposed expansion in light of the City's stated goals for a livable, connected city. We see a similar real-estate hungry juggernaut in Boise State. Between the two, the very qualities that make Boise special are being eroded with each acre of previously public space being converted to private use, and with the loss of historic homes and structures to make way for expansion.

In its competition with St. Al's for market share, St. Luke's is proposing a suburban-scale development in a historic urban setting. We see several key problems with this proposal:
  • Their expansion requires a sacrifice and subsidy on the part of Boise residents and taxpayers who could be forced to endure longer commute times, more traffic congestion, and adverse impacts on community and economic sustainability and livability
  • Their plan as of spring of 2014 relies on the taking of a well-used public road connecting Boise's downtown to high-income, well-established residential neighborhoods to the east; this lost grid connectivity is permanent and can not be mitigated or undone
  • Despite their established presence in Meridian with direct freeway access, St. Luke's has chosen an area of dense population that is already heavily traffic burdened to concentrate their development
  • A cursory review of the area immediately surrounding St Alphonsus indicates the potential impacts on the character of the residential neighborhoods. St Luke's seems to want to emulate or surpass the scale and scope of the St Al's facility
  • St. Luke's is a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation, but Boise residents and taxpayers accessing treatment and services through their clinics and facilities pay full freight for everything from surgical procedures to scans and tests, room rates—even tissues and Tylenol
  • While we all appreciate St. Luke's and the health care professionals who work there, we are protective of our public space, neighborhoods and quality of life
Stay tuned to learn more about what's at stake, who is impacted, and what you can do to ensure that Boise remains the city we all have grown to love.

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