Letters / Comments

When reviewing letters to the editor from the past several months, two things stand out:
  1. Of the relatively few letters in support of the proposed St. Luke's expansion and street closure, nearly every author acknowledged an affiliation with the hospital (board, volunteer or specialist).
  2. All other letters were opposed to the proposed expansion for various reasons, but most cite an objection to street closure, added traffic, and what they perceive as heavy handed tactics in business and the recent public relations campaign.
We acknowledge a diversity of opinions on the proposed expansion among Boise residents and among St. Luke's employees, volunteers and contractors alike. Several folks with personal or family affiliation with St. Luke's—and opposed to the expansion—have approached our group. They fear speaking publicly about their opposition, and we respect that. This does mean city leaders and staff don't have the benefit of a broad perspective.

The New York Times covered this dynamic here.

2016 Letters

Kaiser Letter

Dear Statesman editorial board:
I would like to introduce you to newspaper reporter Audrey Dutton. Audrey is an award-winning health care reporter for the Idaho Statesman, your very own newspaper. Over the last four years, Audrey’s in-depth health care articles have educated many readers in Southwest Idaho about the reasons behind the high cost of health care.

In Sunday’s editorial regarding St. Luke’s expansion, you wrote, “Though some have suggested that the St. Luke’s plan includes an inordinate number of medical office buildings that could be located elsewhere in the city, we don’t buy that. To the contrary, we feel the proximity and convenience in the new plans serve patients trying to get well.”

Yet, in one of Audrey’s articles printed in the Statesman on Oct. 28, 2012, she summarized, “Hospital-based = higher charges,” and in that article she went on to detail why that is the case. Per your own newspaper’s investigative reporting, it has been shown that outpatient visits, procedures, labs and imaging all cost significantly more when delivered on a hospital campus.

The question I’d like to ask the editorial board is this: Do you read your own newspaper reporting or just the corporate press releases and paid advertising?


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article85127947.html#storylink=cpy

Stearns Letter
The expansion of St. Luke’s may be in the best interests of Ada County residents, but the “proposed” expansion is not. The proposed expansion would close Jefferson Street, a vital east-west through street for Boise, place a regional medical center far from any major thoroughfare, and generate enormous traffic on Broadway, Warm Springs, State and Fort streets.

A cycle track around the campus would cross busy campus entrances, creating a safety hazard. Most patients would travel from the Connector or I-84 across town. Ambulances would navigate heavy traffic generated by new medical office buildings (nearly half of expansion).

Couldn’t some medical office buildings be located on other St. Luke’s property, such as near the Connector, closer to the majority of patients? Wouldn’t that ease traffic congestion and mitigation costs? Wouldn’t that allow St. Luke’s to expand emergency facilities without closing Jefferson?

Aren’t there other options that would allow St. Luke’s to expand without taking over another section of city streets? I hope the Ada County Highway District recognizes that denial of the petition to close Jefferson (on June 22) is not a decision against St. Luke’s expansion, but a decision for an expansion in the best interest of Ada County residents.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article84976157.html#storylink=cpy

Guest Opinion

Jefferson Closure Not in Public Interest

Members of Keep Boise Connected, Inc. were invited to meet with the Statesman's Editorial Board recently, just as we were last June before City Council’s approval of St. Luke's Master Plan. In both cases we presented straightforward, compelling testimony from independent experts in medicine, health care, economics and transportation planning.

We showed data and planning documents clearly stating the public interest served by Jefferson, which ACHD's 2013 Downtown Boise Redevelopment Plan refers to as a corridor that "...provides key east-west connectivity east of Broadway-Avenue B and west of 16th Street (which Bannock does not)."

We pointed to the Boise P&Z Commission’s six-to-one denial of the Master Plan “for the reason that it does not comply with substantial elements of the comprehensive plan.” We shared testimony from David Allison, one of the country’s most respected architectural experts on design of urban hospitals who observed, “...by fundamentally creating a superblock in a choke point in your city, they [St. Luke’s] are in fact, harming the city.”

On behalf of thousands of taxpayers throughout Ada County, we questioned diverting ACHD resources from very real transportation problems elsewhere. Dismissing this as an East End issue ignores the facts.

We've approached this with integrity and faithfully presented information from the public record. We’ve all been active civic partners with local government and business for decades. We aren't anti growth, anti government or anti business; we are simply pro neighborhood and community.

None of us question St. Luke’s right to build land it currently owns—in the East End, on Americana or Fairview near the Connector—even in Meridian. As Professor Allison noted, if further street closures weren’t an option, we might finally see a 21st Century Plan B that meets regional health care needs and makes better use of existing infrastructure and access corridors, and that ‘does no harm’ to the community.

An urban hospital should respect the constraints of building within a city, not bring suburban sprawl where it doesn’t belong.
When government considers projects of this magnitude we expect them to seek out unbiased experts to help inform decisions. That didn’t happen here; in fact, we’ve heard from hospital and government employees fearful of expressing their concerns to leadership or in public. That’s not a recipe for informed decision-making or good government.

ACHD Commissioners are likely under tremendous political pressure to grant a street closure despite objective evidence to the contrary. This is meant to be a legal, not an emotional decision; it shouldn’t matter what’s convenient or cheaper for St. Luke’s.

Under state law Commissioners must find that closing a functional public right-of-way—currently in active use by the public—is in the public interest. But granting street closure in this case sets a precedent that could open Pandora’s box. The ripple effects of this decision will extend far into the future and throughout the Treasure Valley.

Ultimately, this is in the Commissioners hands; we hope evidence—not emotional P.R. or politics—guides them.

Erik Kingston, PCED

Erik Kingston is a Certified Professional Community and Economic Developer with over 20 years’ experience working in more than three dozen communities throughout Idaho on housing, community and economic development; community design and identity; land use and civic engagement.

2015 Letters

July 14, 2015

When St. Luke’s proposed its expansion and street closure, some adopted an attitude of “why bother ... the fix is in.” They cited entanglements between corporate executives and local government, and deep corporate pockets to buy access to power and media. How could ordinary citizens compete with power like that?

Others trusted the process and those we helped elect. We followed public procedure and researched the proposal and its relationship to Blueprint Boise, our new LIV Boise principles, and the Energize Our Neighborhoods initiative. These reflect our community values; they supersede decades-old- proposals cited by St. Luke’s to justify further unwanted street closures. Our understanding of medicine has evolved over the past quarter-century; so has our awareness of best practices in urban design and connectivity.

Blueprint Boise is clear: “Avoid development of megastructures on superblocks that create either real or perceived barriers to connectivity.”

LIV Boise emphasizes citizen engagement, health and safety, and our connections to one another.

Energize Our Neighborhoods involves “improving safety ... and creating more vibrant and connected neighborhoods.”

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that ignoring engaged citizens, community-supported best practices and planning principles could sever connectivity and trust in city government.

We’re better than that.



June 29th

While I don’t so much object to your article on the expansion of St. Luke’s (I was on the fence initially when the discussion St. Luke’s put forth was only concerning the emergency expansion), I believe you are being incomplete (as has St. Luke’s) concerning all the effects that will be occurring due to the expansion.

You list all the pros, but only briefly touch on the major expansion of all the offices and the traffic that will bring.

How nice those new bike and pedestrian paths will be as the Warm Springs/Broadway intersection expands to 27 lanes — the fourth largest intersection in Boise. Oh, how nice that will be running across all that traffic. Have you ever tried to cross traffic near intersections this large — like some smaller ones near the mall? I have and it is not nice. All those nice pathways will be overshadowed by the nightmare around it.

If you are going to present your opinion, be sure to give both sides completely. Michael Jung should disclose his affiliations at the beginning of the article, not at the end.



June 29th

The Statesman’s editorial opinion “St. Luke’s expansion deserves approval” is disturbingly biased. The dual roles of Publisher Michael Jung — a St. Luke’s Strategic Initiatives Committee member and a member of the Statesman Editorial Board — should preclude him from participating in the opinion. The editorial urges approval but highlights traffic problems needing resolution. Surely the authors are aware that St. Luke’s plan (in their mind the only plan) believes it best solves traffic issues so can they be resolved?

St. Luke’s CEO David Pate seems to have his own agenda and isn’t concerned about customer inputs. Perhaps in his corporate world no one (including his board) disagrees with him and thus there is no accountability. St. Luke’s keeps pitching an inflexible no-alternative plan, hoping enough people drink the Kool-Aid, and their only alternative is threatening to invest in Meridian instead. Meridian being the center of the Treasure Valley population, having better (freeway) access and plenty of land would make more sense.

Hindsight will show this huge public investment (St. Luke’s pays no taxes) as the Treasure Valley’s biggest blunder. As Harris Ranch builds, Rocky Canyon develops, and all Treasure Valley drives to this super-efficient, specialty hospital, the 27 lanes of Broadway/Main/Warm Springs/Fort Street intersection will surpass Eagle Road/Fairview as Idaho’s biggest gridlock.



June 29th

Downtown doesn’t have any more room for St. Luke’s expansion. Meridian has plenty of room with more open areas for expanding. Does Boise want its downtown identity to be “hospital,” or a nice variety of eateries and eclectic shops that make Boise’s downtown interesting and fun?

On another note, why aren’t the hospitals’ nonprofit status held to the same standards that the Idaho Humane Society, Idaho Foodbank and Idaho Youth Ranch are? It seems like a mega business that continues to use a loophole that should be closed. Wow, just think of the tax dollars the state could really use. Nonprofits are supposed to better the community, not just themselves.



June 29th

The proposed St. Luke’s Medical Center footprint leaves all East End residents uneasy except those now in Pioneer Cemetery, and given the medical center’s ambitions, even that cemetery could be at risk.

This plan will not serve to control or reduce medical care costs as has been recently disclosed by expert federal court witnesses and court decisions. Further, medical cost controls are not guaranteed by repairs and restructuring older medical facilities due to the new architectural requirements of current medical care delivery. One national medical delivery system abandons hospitals for new ones after 40 to 50 years age.

Population demographic changes have required both the Mayo and Cleveland clinics to establish near duplicate facilities in various Southern states to retain market share. Even Johns Hopkins has had to establish remote hospitals and clinics while buying nearby Baltimore property to preserve their neighborhood. St. Luke’s owning more Boise is not to save us.

Both Boise city and our county’s move to accommodate these new demands by St. Luke’s could be costly. How will these costs be met? What would be their impact upon our utility costs and property taxes?

This St. Luke’s plan is to further serve Idaho. Should our city further serve St. Luke’s demands?



June 29th

Closing 300 feet of Jefferson is no different than a 30-foot or one mile closure. There is still no getting around it. That “able-bodied folks” should be satisfied with “innovative measures” such as pedestrian or bike lanes within the proposed expansion is specious.

St. Luke’s has provided no feasible solution to the gridlock that will occur at Jefferson and Avenue B, Reserve and Fort, and Fort and State streets. Traffic will inevitably crawl through the East End across Warm Springs, if possible, to Walnut or through the East End to Fort Boise and possibly through the Veteran’s Administration.

Since when has the Statesman previously expressed a concern about “dramatically reducing the time to treat seriously ill patients?” Second, most of the proposed expansion, and the inevitable congestion and parking requirements, are for outpatient services. Could not these be more efficiently provided by locating in other St. Luke’s facilities within the city? Third, Boise is growing to the West. Wouldn’t more potential patients be treated faster at St. Luke’s Meridian than transporting them through congested city traffic?

The Statesman’s endorsement is only about keeping “one of the largest construction projects in the state” in Boise, regardless of inevitable problems it creates.



June 29th

Like many of my neighbors, I am very concerned about the short-sighted plan to close Jefferson Street.

It seems clear that St. Luke’s plan to close one of the few east/west streets in this town is going to end up being a nightmare as Boise grows to the east. The need to close Jefferson is allegedly driven by the need to shave seconds off precious time in the emergency room — but the increased traffic resulting from this expansion seems likely to add minutes to the time it takes for emergency vehicles to reach the emergency room.

I appreciate the good work done by both of our hospitals, but it seems unwise to assume that St. Luke’s is looking out for Boise’s best interest on this.

Please vote no on closing Jefferson.



June 20th

I agree with the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission decision against the current plan for St. Luke’s downtown expansion because the current plan will discourage East End residents from walking and biking Downtown. By discouraging physical activity, this plan will be harmful to the health of East End residents.

Multiple studies have shown that urban areas with the highest ratios of pedestrian and bike lanes to land areas have populations with the lowest obesity rates. Lower rates of obesity translate into lower rates of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancers. St. Luke’s contends that this expansion will improve health care. Paradoxically, it may result in more residents needing health care.

I hope the City Council takes this consideration into account and votes against the current plan for St. Luke’s expansion. I hope St. Luke’s goes back to its architect to redesign expansion leaving Jefferson open to walking and biking through traffic.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/06/04/3836475/letter-st-lukes.html#storylink=cpy*********************************************************************************************


June 4th

As a retired medical professional with almost half a century experience dealing with hospital/medical centers, St. Luke’s enhanced Boise downtown footprint proposal is understandable from their point of view, but it does not reflect my experiences with some non-Idaho medical centers. Western Treasure Valley population growth rates exceed Boise’s and that trend continues. Many (most?) St. Luke’s employees and increasing numbers of their patients are from west of Boise. These demographic realities alone should encourage St. Luke’s to more seriously consider (as it appears it already has) further Meridian campus expansion to meet this Valley’s and its mission needs with less further Boise disruption.
This opinion is not wholly dispassionate as I’m a 17-year East Ender daily relying on Jefferson Street’s downtown access. It does reflect experience with substantially increased traffic flows and congestion on Warm Springs Avenue, Jefferson and Reserve streets due to increased housing developments from areas those roads serve. Both Jefferson and Reserve streets increasingly are being used by commuters as shortcuts during peak commuting hours. The too-often potholed BLM’s Robbins and VA roads also serve similar but more limited use. St. Luke’s downtown proposal should be directed west.


Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/06/04/3836475/letter-st-lukes.html#storylink=cpy*********************************************************************************************

May 29th

We’re sorry to report that the lovely, vital East End Neighborhood has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 St. Luke’s Cancer. This insidious cancer has been kept at bay since it was first detected in the 1980s with the closure of Bannock Street, but the patient is no longer in remission. St. Luke’s Cancer is an aggressive, terminal disease that first clogs major arteries that supply the neighborhood, choking off all important access to the heart of the city. The patient’s arteries are inundated with unpleasant and foreign objects, making movement slow and painful. It then sends toxic fumes that make it hard for the patient to breath. The patient gradually declines until nothing is left but the ugly shell of a once beautiful neighborhood. When asked what the doctors can do for the neighborhood, they said that St. Luke’s Cancer is really a blessing in disguise. Their prescription is to take a “bike path” and a “ roundabout” daily for the rest of your life and that will clear everything up just fine.



May 24th

It’s not about Jefferson Street.

The public debate on St. Luke’s Master Plan has focused on the closing of Jefferson Street. The bigger question is whether the current location is the best place for a regional medical campus.

The plan envisions five new buildings, with two more than 6 stories tall, one extending over 1st Street, and one on top of Jefferson Street. St. Luke’s anticipates 13,262 additional car trips per day and patients traveling from a 350-mile radius. How will this proposed campus between Downtown and a historic neighborhood, and additional traffic throughout the city (Broadway, Front/Myrtle, Main/Idaho, State Street), impact Boise?

St. Luke’s is a critical economic player and service provider for Boise and the surrounding area. The proposed regional medical facility is likely to provide economic and health care benefits to the region. Wouldn’t the city still benefit from additional jobs, visitors and health care services if the additional facilities were farther from downtown, where projected population growth is likely to occur and St. Luke’s could continue to expand? Would the cost be significantly different?

If expansion at the current location is the best option, then, yes, let’s debate whether Jefferson Street has to be closed.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 28, 2015

I understand both sides in the St. Luke’s expansion argument. I have an option to submit. Since St. Luke’s wants a street-level emergency room, so they don’t have to use elevators to go up/over, why don’t they build an underpass for Jefferson? That way the population wouldn’t lose a commuting route and St. Luke’s would get its one-level emergency facility.


Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 28, 2015

St. Luke’s has threatened to move some services to Meridian if its expansion plan, including closure of Jefferson Street, is not approved. They have not threatened to close their downtown hospital. If Jefferson Street remains open, we can still have an excellent, state-of-the-art hospital downtown with emergency, surgery and inpatient services, where we can take ourselves and our loved ones for care.

I am concerned that many of our residents do not understand that there are other options for building an expansion. But St. Luke’s refuses to consider them, and they have probably spent in excess of a $100,000 on a media campaign to convince Boise that it is in our best interests to support their plan as is. And they are counting on people not having the time or energy to learn the other side of the story.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 28, 2015

Why don’t the town fathers ask the folks at St. Luke’s to talk to the folks at the Gardner Company? I’ll bet that their planners and architects could find a way for St. Luke’s to “modernize” without closing Jefferson Street.


Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 28, 2015

The St. Luke’s position on their proposed expansion is disappointing and disingenuous at best. The general message they convey (in TV ads, billboards, mailings) is that the only way to provide quality health care is to create a huge footprint that closes off a street directly connecting the East End to Downtown Boise. This is not the case; they have multiple good options, including a bridge across Jefferson, that provide the expansion they need, just not in their preferred footprint. I hope they will endorse a plan that works for everyone as the good neighbor they profess to be.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

There is nothing plain and simple about the St. Luke’s takeover of the beautiful East End area. I have watched as they confiscated Bannock Street and surrounding historic homes. This, I thought, was necessary to expand the hospital as needed. Then came the yellow flashing lights on Idaho and Main streets. Now this?
Harris Ranch area has and will build thousands of homes which will empty onto Warm Springs. The proposed St. Luke’s expansion proposes 1,200 new parking spaces. Currently, when you travel east on Main Street and encounter the intersection at Broadway at 3:30 p.m., after you maneuver past the yellow flashing light issue, you cannot cross Broadway even when your light is green because the staff leaving the hospital at that time are parked across Broadway waiting to get onto the Connector. Does this seem like a scenario for adding 1,200 more cars?
I ask you to walk in our shoes. I don’t ride a bike anymore, but I still have to be able to leave my neighborhood and get back home. This isn’t about radical nongrowth granola eaters. We are citizens and we vote.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/04/24/3770427/letter-st-lukes.html#storylink=cpy


Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

Overall, St. Luke’s proposes to add thousands of patrons and employees, which of course adds thousands of drivers, while they close (yet another) street. Duh.

But our objections are not just about losing a street. You have to live here to understand. We have invested in our homes and paid for our streets in the hope (no longer expectation) of living a pleasant life in a pleasant town. But after all the previous expansions, we have the noise (ambulances and gawdawful helicopters) that would be outlawed under any other circumstances. The traffic is already difficult. The streets are lined with employee “creative” parkers, where possible. And since St. Luke’s is, proudly, a “no smoking area,” their employees now spread their butts over here.

I fear that the mayor and City Council will not have the strength to stand up against St. Luke’s’ bigness, its money and monetary threats. If this expansion is a good idea, perhaps we should close all the streets and build even bigger. I could actually say, “I live in St. Luke’s, Idaho.”

Yes, St. Luke’s should expand in Meridian or wherever they might benefit a community, not continue to destroy ours.


Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

Boise’s rectangular street grid westward and eastward is distorted and funneled south due to the foothills and is eventually cut off by the river. City street grid distortion peaks at the Fort Street, Warm Springs, and Broadway intersections. It must have been a sincere design headache for our forefathers laying out roads accommodating our geography; but, they did a nice job with their challenge. Traffic, now at congested levels, through this narrow street grid funnel worked. Surrounding neighborhoods flourished over time becoming desirable historic features of our community. This spirit prompts many refreshing renovations to our historic properties and helps keep the neighborhood vibrant. People are attracted to Boise for this very reason; an easy, uncomplicated commute, through interesting, attractive, non-industrial hometown streets.

The St Luke’s proposed expansion plan destroys the charming historic nature of the surrounding neighborhood. This industrial sized footprint belongs somewhere on the outskirts of town in an area open to development enabling realistic accommodation to its size and the inevitable increase in traffic generated.

Forgetting historic values. Consider quality of life for you living in other parts of the city if forced to abandon your values and submit to an industrial complex in your back yard.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

I am writing to express my opposition to St Luke’s plan to close Jefferson St. I live two blocks east of St Luke’s, and personally I have nothing against them. When a car plastered me on my bike ride home from Hyde Park, I was glad St Luke’s was close by, and that I had a short ambulance trip to the hospital. But for that very reason, smaller streets are more important than ever to me for bicycle riding, not just for me but also for my kids. I don’t ride Fort St. anymore. I’ve gone down that road (literally), and it left me permanently debilitated. Jefferson is the road I ride to the Saturday Farmer’s Market, Sunday Irish music jam, and everything else I do downtown. And Jefferson is the only small street anywhere close that crosses the major boulevards. As a community we need to balance business interests with livability. No, I don’t mind living next to a hospital, and yes there are some advantages. But I don’t want to live next to a medical-industrial complex, especially if it means cutting me off from the rest of the city, or forcing me to take additional risks.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

I grew up in East Boise and remember when Bannock Street was a through street from Avenue C all the way through town. I also believe there was an Avenue A that was consumed by St Luke’s. Those streets were cut off in the name of progress for St Luke’s Hospital. In 1974 the Bishop’s house was moved for their expansion. Now they wish to block Jefferson Street for their expansion. They own property on the south side of Idaho Street The next expansion will probably block Idaho Street. The folks living in East Boise now are bottlenecked by the location of the Pioneer Cemetery, Donna Larsen Park and Fort Boise Park. St Luke’s expansions will further create traffic gridlock for people traveling west from that area of the city. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, when Saint Alphonsus was located at 508 N. 5th Street, they had the common sense to move to a better location with room to expand. Just because St. Luke’s didn’t have that foresight is no reason to further block traffic through the area. They have a location they can expand at Eagle Road and the freeway.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

It seems to me that the St. Luke’s expansion plan has gone from to close Jefferson or not to close Jefferson to “do you want health care or not.” This isn’t about wanting or not wanting health care; this is about St. Luke’s wanting to close a road that is very valuable to the East End. This is about losing connectivity to downtown; this is about the 13,000 extra trips a day (information given at the ACHD meeting) and how the surrounding roads will handle the extra traffic in an area where the streets are at or near capacity. This is about the extra helicopter traffic in the neighborhood, because now St. Luke’s will have their trauma care downtown. This is about St. Luke’s wanting to build a massive building that will not fit in with the rest of the surrounding neighborhoods or with the blueprint for Boise.

We appreciate St. Luke’s and their great doctors and nurses, and we value having them as a neighbor. We hope that they will return to the sort of behavior that made them such great neighbors in the first place.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015
No, closing Jefferson Street is not a “must” for St. Luke’s expansion. Redesigning this medical mess is a must to preserve and maintain Boise’s quality urban environment.

Closing Jefferson Street would leave only two east-west streets: Main Street to Warm Springs (westbound) and Warm Springs to Idaho Street (eastbound), to connect Boise’s East End with Downtown.

Too many streets have been closed to accommodate St. Luke’s closed-campus plan. Avenue A has been obliterated from Idaho Street to Jefferson, Bannock Street has been closed from 1st to Avenue B, and now St. Luke’s demands Jefferson Street from 1st to Avenue B. St. Luke’s plan disrupts the orderly layout of street grids, causing increased traffic on fewer streets. St. Luke’s is also buying land on the south side of Main Street. Expansion in that direction will, of course, impact the traffic flow on the remaining arterials of Idaho and Main streets.

Years ago, Saint Al’s moved to its Curtis Street location; St. Luke’s chose to stay downtown. We must not be coerced to concede the city’s valuable assets for a closed-campus plan that is incompatible with Boise’s urban-residential design. Please contact City Council and voice your concerns regarding St. Luke’s plan.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 14, 2015

It seems a bit ironic that on March 30 the Idaho Senate sent an anti-bullying bill to the governor to sign into law to protect those threatened and intimidated by tyrants. At the same time, St. Luke’s seems to be threatening and intimidating the East End neighborhood with similar bullying tactics. Is it too late to get a rider on this bill?

The current “process” seems to be completely devoid of any real credibility to working out a solution between St. Luke’s and the city. Their plan was presented as a done deal, no discussion, no neighborhood input. Those most affected, and we will be negatively and permanently affected, are the East End neighborhood; but we were, and continue to be, ignored.

If you are going to spend $400 million on improvements and renovations of your current facility, are you trying to tell the city and neighborhood that you have looked at many alternatives and this is the only plan that will make your program work? Please show us some of your concepts. I am sure the city and neighborhood would approve variances to help you achieve your goal, and keep Jefferson Street open.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 13, 2015

City Council has an opportunity to facilitate a win-win solution to St. Luke’s expansion by insisting that the option of a bridge over Jefferson Street undergo more strenuous review. City residents, especially East-enders, strongly support health care and love having St. Luke’s in our neighborhood. But our support of the expansion cannot include tossing excellent urban design to the wayside and destroying quality of life even for a business that has our support.

This issue is far larger than merely saving a few commuters’ route. It has to do with preserving Boise’s unique quality of life that prioritizes small city blocks of walkable/bikeable streets. The guiding principles of Blueprint Boise clearly disallow any business, no matter how beloved, from gobbling up city streets to create user-unfriendly “superblocks” for convenience.

St. Luke’s says it needs to take Jefferson to ensure their ER is on the same floor as other services. Yet most of St. Luke’s expansion will be in new medical buildings and a Children’s Pavilion that don’t impact Jefferson Street at all. It’s time to build a bridge – literally – between great health care and the healthy urban design that has become a hallmark of Boise.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 10, 2015

Do you see any similarities? There are three little boys playing in the sandbox. One of the little boys decides he wants to be in charge so he tells the other boys, “If you don’t do it my way, I am going to take my toys and leave.” On a larger scale, with supposedly mature individuals, we have a local hospital which says, “I want to block off Jefferson St. and if you don’t let me I am going to move my business to Meridian.” Meridian is looking for more major businesses. Let’s keep our Jefferson St. open and let the business move to Meridian.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 8, 2015

After many months of reading letters to the editor it appears the best supporting argument for the closure of Jefferson Street is, “No one really uses this street except odd-ball cyclists that refuse to be inconvenienced by some minor rerouting of bikes, pedestrians and vehicles around an enlarged St. Luke’s campus.” Fortunately, the majority of downtown Boise residents understand that this is an oversimplification of the issue, devised to minimize the seriousness of St. Luke’s requirement to close Jefferson Street.

To obtain an accurate account of the many concerns voiced by the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission and local residents, please review the Feb. 9, 2015, meeting transcripts. In addition, take time to review Blueprint Boise, specifically section CC3.24, Design Principles for Neighborhoods. Ask St. Luke’s to genuinely engage neighborhood residents to produce a more sustainable plan that does not include the closure of Jefferson Street.

On Tuesdaythe Boise City Council will consider St. Luke’s Master Plan at a work session that is open to the public on the third floor of City Hall. If you value community values and connectivity, please attend this hearing and let your opinion be heard.



Letter: St. Luke’s expansion

April 7, 2015

This letter is in regard to St Luke’s proposal to close of parts of Jefferson street to accommodate their hospital expansion. I think the idea is ridiculous — it serves only St Luke’s needs, and not local transportation.

St Luke’s has already closed off part of Bannock for its own use. Where is this going to stop? Over the next few decades will St Luke’s still occupy half of Boise’s Downtown if you let them? St Luke’s is nothing short of a health care bully. They have become so large that they cannot understand the word no. Just look at the way they are fighting the recent court’s decision regarding the lawsuit with Saint Al’s. Please do the great citizens of Boise a favor and deny the street closure proposal.



To Whom this Concerns:
I wish to record my objections to the closure of E. Jefferson Street by St. Luke's hospital.
E. Jefferson is the most direct, convenient way for me to access downtown Boise and points west of downtown.

Jefferson is the safest route to bicycle downtown.

The closure would increase traffic on Warm Springs, Broadway intersection and the State St., Fort St. intersections.  The East end already has a bottleneck in this area.  Why would we want to worsen this situation???

I have lived in East Boise for 45 years.  My family and I have used Jefferson to bicycle and drive regularly during this time.

Please consider carefully the negative impacts the closure of Jefferson would have on the entire East side of Boise.

Thank you for your time

Lynne M. Schnupp


Idaho Statesman—2/10/15
Metastasizing St. Luke’s would clog our arteries.
St. Luke’s master plan for unending expansion of their “non-profit,” nontaxpaying hospital calls for us to give them Jefferson Street between 1st Street and Avenue B, and 1st Street between Jefferson and Bannock.

I am amazed at their audacity to expect taxpayers who financially support the maintenance of these very streets to cede their use and ownership to an entity that relies on their property tax exemption to avoid such support.

I use Jefferson Street daily to access Downtown Boise. Elimination of this access will negatively affect hundreds if not thousands of East End and Foothills citizens.

It occurred to me that a less-than-ideal compromise might be bridging of Jefferson Street as they did their 1st Street parking garage. Their plan rejects this meager concession to the public interest as “interrupting their departmental organizational efficiency.”

They compound this rejection by negating the public advantages of their parking garage bridge on 1st Street by proposing to close 1st Street between Jefferson and Bannock. Please contact your Boise City Council and ACHD commissioners and ask them to reject any plan that would further impede current traffic patterns in St. Luke’s Downtown campus.



Idaho Statesman—2/8/15
We purchased our home in 1995; a year later we supported creating the East End Historic District. This means the city can impose limits on what we can do to our own property. It isn't always easy or convenient, but preserving Boise's character and integrity are important.

No doubt you've experienced the public relations campaign promoting St. Luke's expansion. With population growth, the need for hospital bed space and health care increases, and everyone knows someone employed and served by St. Luke's. East Enders have generally supported St. Luke's and didn't oppose closure of Bannock when St. Luke's wanted to expand south.

St. Luke's now wants to close Jefferson and other streets and build north, east and west. EENA has taken a position against street closures that would further isolate property owners and taxpayers east of St. Luke's from Boise's Downtown core - in direct conflict with Boise's comprehensive plan. Jefferson's closure may be convenient for St. Luke's, but it comes at a cost to Boise's connectivity and integrity.

We can support St. Luke's - and demand limits to their impact on our community. They should be held to the same standards as homeowners. No more street closures; let's keep Boise connected.

Erik Kingston, Boise


Idaho Statesman—2/8/15
I oppose St. Luke's request to close Jefferson Street as a part of its expansion plan. Since its founding in 1902, St. Luke's has provided an incalculable benefit to the citizens of Boise.

For Boise's East End, however, it has been the equivalent of a black hole, gobbling up historic homes and forever altering the character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

I have lived within a few blocks of St. Luke's since the 1950s. Where my boyhood home once stood, there is now a parking lot. Nevertheless, I'm not opposing progress. The inevitable growth of St. Luke's reflects that of the Treasure Valley and the increasing complexity of medicine. Jefferson, however, is a major access route to Downtown. Bannock Street was closed at St. Luke's behest years ago. It's hard to conceive of another entity being so high-handed as to attempt closure of a second major street, no matter how noble its purpose. Let St. Luke's build tunnels and sky bridges - witness the pedestrian tunnel from Seattle's UW Hospital under busy Pacific Street - but keep Jefferson open. In the long run, St. Luke's can afford it and thereby all can benefit both from an improved hospital and continued use of Jefferson Street.
Peter Angleton, Boise


Idaho Statesman—1/31/15
St. Luke's Regional Medical Center wants to greatly expand its "footprint" in Boise, and once again they are asking the citizens of Boise to contribute land to this private venture.
St. Luke's, many years ago, was the recipient of the "gift" of Bannock Street, between 2nd and Avenue B, and now they want us to give them Jefferson Street as well. If this is approved, St. Luke's will in effect have a 10-story, three-block-wide permanent barrier on one of the main interfaces between a prime residential area and the downtown core.

St. Luke's is perfectly free to go hundreds of millions of dollars in debt for its grandiose plans; it is not free to ask the taxpayers of Boise to underwrite its folly. Jefferson Street is a much-used, safe, convenient path to downtown Boise. I don't see why we should be shunted to very busy Fort Street, a roundabout and a bifurcating traffic flow, to enhance St. Luke's backyard.

Keep Jefferson Street a public thoroughfare, not a private driveway.
John J. O'Hagan, Boise


St. Luke's is proposing a major expansion of their Downtown Boise hospital, which involves tearing up a block of Jefferson Street and putting a building in its place.

This is poor planning, because Jefferson Street is a straight shot to Downtown Boise for anyone in Boise's East End and eastern Foothills neighborhoods. St. Luke's plan will create a permanent detour and will increase traffic congestion on nearby streets.
You don't maintain a vibrant, livable city by eliminating public roads. In a city, you want to give people as many ways as possible to get from point A to point B. You want to increase connectivity, not reduce it.

I am quite confident that St. Luke's can expand and modernize their Boise facility while respecting their East End neighbors, who number in the thousands, by preserving Jefferson Street as a means of getting from point A to point B.
St. Luke's has submitted their plan to the city. Please contact the City Council and Mayor Dave Bieter and let them know that permanently vacating (eliminating) a block of Jefferson Street is a bad idea and that you want them to oppose it.

Christopher Smith, Boise

May, 2014

St. Luke’s plans to close Jefferson Street between Avenue B and 1st Street and construct its own private facilities directly on what is now a public right of way.  As a cycling family living in Boise’s east end, we regularly use Jefferson to commute downtown for work, school and pleasure.  Jefferson is the and most convenient route downtown for east end cyclists.   Many other cyclists and pedestrians use this route as an alternative to the busy Warm Springs/Idaho corridor.  Closure of Jefferson will result in even more traffic and congestion on the only direct corridor left from the east end into downtown and on both Fort and State Streets.  

Closure of Jefferson will also harm quality of life in the east end, preventing residents from a leisurely ride or stroll downtown for meals or events, and will result in a less connected community.  The East End Neighborhood Association recognizes the potential damage to the community, and is opposing closure of the street.  The proposed closure will harm the city of Boise generally, and the east end in particular.  St. Luke’s has other options.  I urge you to join me in opposing St. Luke’s attempt to vacate Jefferson Street.  

Charlie Honsinger

Idaho Statesman—1/14/15
After reviewing St. Luke’s expansion master plan, I strongly oppose the closure of the east end of Jefferson Street between Avenue B and N. First Street. My family resides in the east end of Boise and chose to do so because of the safe and easy access to our wonderful city center.

As a family of outdoor enthusiasts, it is important to our health and happiness to be able to safely bike from our home to the downtown area to attend the numerous community events and/or to meet friends for dinner/socializing in our many fine restaurants/bistros.

St. Luke’s is a superb medical facility (I’m a MSTI cancer survivor) and I support their need for expansion. However, the closure of another public street used by so many east end residents to bike safely downtown will negatively impact our neighborhood. I encourage all city residents to engage with us to keep E. Jefferson open and the East End / Foothills neighborhoods safely accessible to all Boise residents.

In summary, let’s Keep Boise Connected (and the most livable city in the nation, Mayor Bieter!).

Otis Means


Idaho Statesman—Letter: St Luke's
A hearing on St. Luke's Master Plan that includes the permanent closure of Jefferson Street between Avenue B and 1st Street is scheduled before Boise's Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 9. Boise residents should oppose St. Luke's attempt to obtain this essential and valuable public right-of-way for its own use.

St. Luke's has other options for expansion in its downtown location, so that it can continue to serve Boise residents' medical needs. However, despite substantial opposition and efforts to discuss alternatives, it has refused to consider any other options, instead focusing on a plan that will bring more traffic congestion to an already problematic area.

Jefferson is the safest and most convenient route from Boise's east end to downtown for cyclists and pedestrians, and is a convenient and time-saving alternative to the crowded Warm Springs/Idaho/Main corridor for motorists. Closing Jefferson will make Boise less bikeable, less walkable and less livable, in direct contradiction to both the city's goal of making this the "most livable city in the country," and St. Luke's stated mission to "improve the health of people in our region."

Please contact the city as soon as possible to express your displeasure with St. Luke's master plan.

Charles Honsinger, Boise

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