Public Comments

From Jimmy Halyburton at the Boise Bicycle Project FB Page (March 31)*
(Please support these folks during Idaho Gives Day

UPDATE: See note below.
St Luke's proposed Jefferson closure...
Last week I was invited by some of the developers and key stakeholders of St Luke’s expansion plans to talk personally about their desire to shut down Jefferson Street between Ave. B (aka Broadway) and 1st Street. St Luke’s claims the permanent street closure (as in they are going to build on top of it) is essential in effectively expanding their ER and other services to the community. I think I was invited to this personal meeting because it became known that I, on behalf of BBP, was preparing to submit a letter, voice BBP’s stance, and testify at the April 7th City Council meeting against the closure of Jefferson.

First, I think it speaks highly of St Luke’s to take the time to meet with me and offer more education and insight to their plans that might not be obvious in their heavily distributed Master Plan. I was impressed by the people I met at the meeting, and I hope, regardless of the outcome (closing or not closing down Jefferson on that block), that BBP and St Luke’s can work with the City and ACHD to make the St. Luke’s area safer for all types of road users.

That said, there is absolutely no way I could advocate for, or be in favor of shutting down Jefferson St. It really boils down to safety and connectivity, and the closing of Jefferson presents significant problems to both of these. For those who don’t know, Jefferson at Broadway is a preferred and heavily used bike route for accessing the East End Neighborhood from Downtown Boise and vice versa. When I used to live in this area, I used this intersection as my primary route in and out of Downtown, whether driving or riding a bike. The closing of the street would be similar to the Downtown Library (another nonprofit) deciding it needed to shut down 8th St., another heavily used bike route, in order to expand and offer the best service to it’s customers. Perhaps the comparison is a little extreme, but those living in the East End of Boise may not think so.

To St. Luke’s credit, they have worked with ACHD to provide alternate routes in the circumstance that the road closure is approved. These alternate routes, although better than nothing, do not offer the same amount of safety and connectivity that already exist on the road. In my opinion, they actually present some major safety issues at various points that, as a certified bicycle safety instructor and experienced bike commuter, I’m not ok with.

One of the best things Boise’s street system has going for it, is its pretty complete grid system that provides connectivity and options for really great infrastructure that can accommodate all types of road users. When we eliminate this grid system, and especially when we set a precedent that it is ok for major businesses (St. Luke’s is a nonprofit, but a business regardless) to shut down a grid system, we are creating potential for some major problems in our city’s future transportation needs.

I believe allowing for this expansion would be a big move in the wrong direction, and a move that would create some major safety concerns for those riding bicycles through the area. BBP’s board of Directors has given me permission to voice that stance on behalf of the organization. I would encourage those opposed and in favor of the closure to voice their opinions at the City Council Meeting on April 7th.

*NOTE: In surprise testimony before ACHD commissioners on Wednesday, June 22, Mr. Halyburton completely reversed the position described so passionately and unequivocally in his earlier written testimony above, and decided to endorse St. Luke's 'cycle track' option and closure of East Jefferson. No specific details were shared with commissioners to indicate what, if anything, had changed in the proposal or its effect on connectivity or public safety. His testimony was seen by many as pivotal for St. Luke's advancing its project through this last hurdle—they needed an endorsement from a prominent local cycling advocate. Our neighborhoods will forever live with the consequences of ACHD's vote that night—lost connectivity, burdensome traffic and an increasing health care monopoly and cost inflation.

Person On The (Jefferson) Street Interviews

Besides our "Speak Up For Jefferson" video selfie challenge, we're sampling a few folks who use Jefferson. We're having some interesting conversations with folks, all of whom* are concern about the prospect of losing public right-of-way and facing increased traffic. Most pedestrians and cyclists we've heard from to date knew nothing of the proposed closure. We encourage each of them to learn about St. Luke's expansion—from all sources.

We've encountered folks who work at St. Luke's and oppose street closures but are afraid to sign up or speak up. We appreciate their position and support (they are sharing information with friends and family). Our sample to date includes hipsters, seniors, young families, cyclists, walkers, and churchgoers, all of whom oppose closing Jefferson Street, and most of whom are concerned by the scale of St. Luke's proposed footprint.

Whether long-time residents or folks who have recently relocated to Boise, they all appreciate the small block sizes and grid connectivity that help distribute all traffic types and create commuter choices.

Here are two samples:

Tim moved to Boise in large part for it's connectivity that supports walking and biking and shrinks the distance between neighborhoods and his favorite businesses on 8th Street. Clearly, he doesn't think putting a wall between downtown merchants and their loyal customers is smart.

The gentleman below spotted us and drove around the block to sign the #SaveJefferson petition. He also wanted to take a moment to tell us what Jefferson means to him. These are just two examples of Boise residents concerned about loss of public right of way.

The couple below use Jefferson on a regular basis, occasionally driving but mostly riding bikes with their young children. Like others, they took time out of their schedule to share their perspective.

*only one person we spoke with wasn't concerned with the St. Luke's expansion or Jefferson closure, stating that he 'didn't get involved with politics or neighborhood stuff." 

Public Comment Letters re: St. Luke’s expansion

The following are sample letters from Boise residents submitted to Boise's Planning and Development Services Division, ACHD, and Boise's Mayor and Council:


Dear Mayor and City Council Members,
I am writing to strenuously oppose the proposed closure of Jefferson St. by St. Luke's Hospital.  Not only is this a convenient and purposeful corridor for accessing downtown Boise for those coming from and to Southeast Boise, I believe a closure would contravene the spirit, if not the letter, of Blueprint Boise.  

Among other principles, the Blueprint stresses access, convenience to amenities, livable neighborhoods, and environs that are friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists.  The closure of Jefferson St. would forever and negatively influence those principles and set a horrible precedent for other projects that may come before your and future administrations.  Having already blocked off Bannock St., I view the intent to block Jefferson St. as being sheer arrogance on the part of hospital authorities.

I have no problem with the idea of a "campus", but would suggest an underground walkway connecting the north and south sides of Jefferson instead of a closure (a raised walkway would be obscene). The present value cost of such a structure would be minimal compared to overall project costs and would have no impact upon convenience.

Please reject this proposal.  

Yours respectfully,


Alan Shealy, Principal

Claremont Partners, L.P.
(Former Boise City Councilman)


Dear [ACHD] Commissioners,

As I sat ten cars back from the stoplight at the intersection of Fort, State, North First and Broadway (Ave B) this morning,  I tried to imagine what it would be like with St. Luke’s proposed new entrance and a large parking garage emptying into this same intersection.  It’s such an insane idea, it’s hard to even contemplate.

This intersection is already a hub that handles excessive and diverse traffic. 
o   Destination and cross-city traffic of people commuting to and from work.
o   Students traveling to North Jr. High, Boise High and Boise State University by bike and car.
o   People seeking health care services at St. Luke’s.
o   Trucks making deliveries to surrounding businesses.
o   Everyday neighborhood bike and car traffic to and from Boise’s downtown area. 

I respectfully ask ACHD commissioners to direct their staff to make a rigorous study of the impact St. Luke’s expansion plans will have on the roads and neighborhoods in this area.

I’m one of the people who drive this section of roads every day. I see and experience the traffic at the intersection (Fort/State/Ave B) and on these roads at rush hour, during special events and in all seasons and weather conditions. 

I’m a St. Luke neighbor who bikes and uses Jefferson St (proposed to be closed) as a safe alternative to Idaho, Main, Broadway and State streets when I visit downtown.

I’m a mother of a daughter who attends North Jr. High and am concerned about her safety as she travels to school and downtown by bike, bus and car.

In my opinion, St. Luke’s proposed traffic choices make each of these uses and forms of transportation more dangerous.

As the elected officials for ACHD you have the authority and responsibility to evaluate a development’s impact on our roads’ connectedness and safety.  Please take this one as seriously as you would if this proposal was coming from a big box store expanding in a longstanding neighborhood with complex traffic needs.

PS – This morning I watched a car nearly hit 2 pedestrians and their dog in a cross-walk.  It was dark, foggy and the driver was rushing to beat the red light after waiting at the end of line of other vehicles.  Poor decision by the driver, but not uncommon in our neighborhood’s already congested intersections. 

Vicky Osborn
Boise, ID 83712


Idaho Statesman—Letter: St Luke's
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

Read more here:

Questions for St. Luke's:
St. Luke’s is planning a major downtown expansion. With this project we will see major changes to the area around the hospital. I understand progress and change are a necessary part of life, but I have concerns that this project will permanently alter the character of the East End neighborhood and affect all of the neighborhoods in adjoining areas. St. Luke’s has an opportunity to enhance or degrade the local community with this project. I would like to point out several areas that, if addressed correctly, will result in a beneficial outcome for the hospital and the community surrounding it.

1) Increased traffic throughout the local and intersecting roads. I understand that the forecast sees increasing usage in the future, but the acceleration of volume associated with employees and visitors to the hospital will most likely strain any alterations in the current roadways. It will be very difficult travel to and from the East End in an efficient manner. I have seen the traffic studies calling for increased loads with or without the expansion. I challenge the hospital and ACHD to come up with a plan that moves traffic better than it moves now.

2) One major component of the expansion will be the closure of Jefferson Street at the hospital. This closure will cause increased traffic load on Warm Springs. Harris Ranch continues to grow and a large number of the residents use Warm Springs for access to Boise. This trend will only continue. With the closure of Jefferson we will see longer and longer lines of traffic forming on west bound Warm Springs. How will the inflow of traffic to downtown be improved when traveling from the East End, Shenandoah area or Harris Ranch.

3) Parking in the neighborhood. We see many St. Luke's employees park in the neighborhood on a regular basis. Even with a parking deck built on the west side of the new hospital, I cannot see a change in parking habits. Resident parking enforcement on neighborhood streets is mandatory (even now).

4) Increased helicopter traffic. We have many flights over our houses at all hours of the day and night. With the addition of expanded ER services we will have more flights, more noise and more exhaust pollution in our area. Despite St. Luke’s official’s comments to the contrary, these neighborhood overflights occur both with the wind and against the wind. Why are the flight paths over the neighborhood? Why don't they fly over the Ft. Boise fields? What about the alternative location next to the interstate at Eagle Rd.?

5) Blocked pedestrian and cyclist flow on Jefferson St. The recent use studies were performed in October. Those studies do not reflect actual use. Studies need to be performed in the summer, on Saturday mornings when the farmers markets are open and in mid-May during prime bike commuting season. Closure of this road and access to downtown will change the character of the East End Neighborhood. It will eliminate a popular and scenic walking route to town. It has been stated that people can travel on the Bannock right of way through the hospital campus, but that is not the esthetic or convenience people want.

How does the East End change with this project? This neighborhood has grown and prospered due to its location and easy access to downtown. The neighborhood is quiet and has relatively few cars transiting across it. This project will alter the much coveted walkability, create much more neighborhood car traffic and increase the overall noise in the area.

(Local Boise medical professional and East End resident.)


Letter to ACHD Commissioners (Commission meeting 1/28/15 at 6pm)
I’m writing in opposition to measures that would ultimately result in closure of Jefferson and other public rights of way under St. Luke’s proposed facilities expansion. As a community and economic development professional I am not anti-growth; neither am I anti St. Luke’s. I simply believe that as a community we should be enhancing the connectivity, access and neighborhood integrity that make Boise a great place to live—not moving in the opposite direction.

The current staff report does not take into account the economic and transportation impacts of further isolating property owners to the east and north of the proposed expansion. Only focusing on St. Luke’s economic impact (which is admittedly significant) creates a one-sided picture and keeps you and others from making an informed, inclusive and balanced decision.

As it moves forward, this expansion will irrevocably alter the nature of this strategic crossroads connecting the very elements that make Boise great: Foothills, established neighborhoods, schools, recreation, culture and commerce. Thoughtful consideration of future ripple effects is critical. An unqualified green light to St. Luke’s Master Plan now means the die is cast; I urge you to consider future impacts on the surrounding community.

Like many East End residents, Jefferson is my main cycling connection to the downtown core. Aside from the temporary bike lanes on Idaho and Main, Jefferson provides the only bike route I’ve been comfortable riding with my daughter to access events at the Statehouse or restaurants and public markets downtown. The East End Neighborhood Association has in fact gone on record in opposition to vacating Jefferson Street.

St. Luke’s preferred option as proposed puts further strain on already failing intersections at Fort and Reserve, and on the five-way intersection of Warm Springs, Main, Idaho, Broadway and Avenue B. Peak traffic is backed up for blocks, and events at Outlaw Field and Dona Larsen Park trigger traffic jams that impact an area between the Broadway Bridge and Federal Building. Any significant emergency during one of these episodes of gridlock could compromise public safety, and response times for Fire Station #1.

The suburban/regional scale of the proposed expansion (including more than 1,200 new parking spaces) is inconsistent with a highly used, historic urban setting. The idea of drawing patients and visitors from a multi-state, 300-mile radius into an already traffic burdened urban hub is disturbing to anyone who appreciates this city’s character and intimacy. The first rule of medicine is ‘do no harm,’ and I believe it should apply here.

St. Luke’s has already assumed control of several formerly public streets and spaces, and they have effective control over traffic flow on Main and Idaho via the HAWK beacons installed for their employees using the parking facility to the south. Proposed additional street closures mean discontinuity; they create barriers to transportation alternatives and are in direct conflict with the vision and goals of Blueprint Boise, which states:

Boise will be known for:
·       predictable development pattern;
·       Stable neighborhoods and mixed-use activity centers;
·       Being a connected community;
·       Being a community that values its culture, education, arts, and history

The plan also identifies specific goals for the North and East End neighborhoods:
·       Goal NE-C1: Monitor the effects of development in adjacent planning areas on the North/East End.
·       Goal NE-C2: Ensure future roadway improvements enhance rather than detract from the North/East End’s character.
·       Goal NE-PS1: Maintain existing services for North/East End residents.

Goal NE-NC1: Continue to preserve and enhance the character and livability of North/East End’s neighborhoods.

Loss of public right-of-way on Jefferson and other streets is serious, and cannot be mitigated. I’m also concerned by St. Luke’s proposal to terminate Krall in a cul-de-sac, removing its access to Avenue B., as well as their stated preference to vacate N. 1st Street from Idaho north at some point in the future. All this can have unintended consequences: fewer people on bikes and more people in cars, impacts on air quality, risks to public health and safety through increased traffic congestion.

As St. Luke’s continues to compete for market share, we need to ask ourselves whether it is good policy to allow private corporations to monopolize our streets and neighborhoods without limits or if we should instead affirm consistent boundaries that protect Boise’s sense of place and mobility. I believe it’s possible to allow for growth that reflects a ‘triple bottom line’ (financial, social and environmental) development ethic.

Independent planners understand that St. Luke’s has many options for expansion, some of which would avoid street closures. I ask that surrounding neighborhoods and Boise commuters not be turned into sacrifice zones to subsidize St. Luke’s stated preference. Otherwise, this project will create a wall between Ada County residents to the east and north of Avenue B and our centers of government, education and commerce in downtown Boise, and will send a discouraging message to residents and taxpayers.


Erik Kingston, PCED
Boise, ID 83712


Hi Hal
I am all for St Luke's expansion.  That being said, I am totally opposed to the proposed closure of Jefferson Street.

I commute to work, either by bike or walking, Monday - Friday from mid August through May, along Jefferson St.  Jefferson is the safest route downtown from the East end, right now.  State St is way too busy with commuter traffic, as is Warm Springs to Idaho.  I always see at least 3 other bikers during my commute, which means there are probably many others.  There are many people who commute in the evenings and on the weekends via Jefferson St also.  Closing Jefferson without a pass through of any kind seems like an infringement on public property (aren't streets public thorough fares?) and also cuts off safe access to downtown.

I would like to see Jefferson remain open, for the safety of pedestrians and bikers.  If that is not going to be an option, then put in a crosswalk at Bannock St for us, though that will not solve connectivity for cars.  Pedestrian & cyclist safety and connectivity to downtown, really should be a bigger concern here.  It seems like it is being swept under the rug.

Thank you
Lee Honsinger


Dear Mr. Simmons:
I am writing to register my concern with St. Luke's Master Plan, and specifically with its plan to vacate Jefferson Street on the west side of Avenue B.  Many Boise residents use Jefferson Street to access back and forth between downtown and the East End.

Jefferson is the safest and most convenient route downtown for pedestrians and cyclists, and provides a convenient and helpful motorists' connection as an alternative to the increasingly congested intersection at Main/Idaho/Warm Springs and Broadway.

Closing Jefferson will result in additional congestion at that intersection, along with the intersection at Reserve and Fort, and will decrease the connectivity between East End and downtown Boise.

I urge you to require St. Luke's to reevaluate its options in a manner so as to preserve this essential connection between downtown and the East End.


Charles L. Honsinger


Dear City of Boise and ACHD personnel:

I am writing to express my disapproval of St. Luke's proposed expansion plan for its downtown facility that I understand will soon be submitted for consideration by the City of Boise.  I have attended two presentations by St. Luke's and its consultants in the past two weeks and am concerned about the effects of the plan if implemented. In particular, I am opposed to the proposal to close E. Jefferson Street between Avenue B and N. First Street.

As a family of cyclists who live in the East End of Boise, we commute to downtown Boise using East Jefferson on a daily basis.  We, along with many other East End residents, also use E. Jefferson to access downtown regularly for such purposes as attending Saturday Market, and traveling to downtown Boise restaurants for a night out.

E. Jefferson Street is, without question, the safest route to downtown Boise for cyclists.  It is not anywhere near as busy as the other main cycling route from the East End into downtown - using Warm Springs Avenue onto Idaho Street.  It is also a  very convenient distance from the East End ,and there are not as many stoplights or parked cars on it as on Idaho - thus the chances of being forced to mix with vehicle traffic at a stoplight, or getting “doored” by someone getting our of their vehicle are greatly reduced.

St. Luke's and its consultants, to their credit, have been very honest and forthright regarding their intentions: they simply propose to submit a plan to close of E. Jefferson St., and “mitigate” the impact to cyclists - despite obvious, substantial, and vocal opposition to their plan at both meetings I attended.  In response to this, I raise a few points:

1.  First, in order to close E. Jefferson, it is my understanding that St. Luke's must have the public right-of-way owned by ACHD vacated.  This is a public right-of-way that a private corporation (albeit a non-profit corporation) is seeking to take out of the public domain.  Thus, it is incumbent upon the agencies involved to seek and take into account input from the public whose property will be given away.

2.  Second, to the extent that E. Jefferson is vacated, St. Luke's must compensate the public whose property they are “taking”, and who rely upon that street as a safe, reliable route downtown with a similar safe, reliable and convenient route downtown.  Simply mitigating the closure of E. Jefferson by forcing cyclists onto Idaho or another busy street is unacceptable, and unsafe - can you imagine young families riding downtown to Saturday Market on Idaho Street?

3.  Third, Boise is known nationwide as a “walkable, bikeable” community.  As such, it draws companies and their employees to the area seeking a high quality of life.  We must do everything possible to keep and enhance this city's great reputation.

4.  Fourth, St. Luke's mission is “to improve the health of people in our region.”  Based upon its stated mission, St. Luke's should be willing to step up to the plate and encourage continued and increased cycling in this community, including spending the necessary funds to create substantial cycling-specific infrastructure as mitigation if it is successful in its goal of closing E. Jefferson Street.  As an example, the best idea I have heard was at one of the meetings I attended where an individual suggested a “bikeway” raised above the walking mall on the vacated portion of E. Bannock Street that would also cross Avenue B and safely deposit the rider onto W. Bannock Street.  Such infrastructure is forward thinking and innovative and would encourage, instead of discourage cycling downtown from the East End of Boise.  St. Luke's and its consultants were “lukewarm” to this proposal based upon its cost.  Again, I point out that if St. Luke's desires to vacate a public right-of-way for its purposes; it should also be willing to provide the infrastructure to compensate the public for the lost right-of-way

In short, we all know that the East End of Boise is a great place to live.  Part of the reason is the availability of safe, flowing cycling routes downtown for work and pleasure purposes.  Let's do all we can to keep it that way!

Please feel free to contact me for discussion, and thank you for your attention.

Charles L. Honsinger


Dear Mr. Simmons, 

This email is to submit my objection to St Luke's Master Plan to close Jefferson Street. I have lived in Foothills East for 20 years and my husband and I have used Jefferson Street regularly to travel downtown and to points west of downtown. I prefer taking this route because it is not congested and, for this reason above all, it is a good and safe street for driving, riding my scooter and for bicycling. 

I have reviewed the proposal, and believe that it is not in the best interests of the many people who reside in this area to make this change. It is true that that there is less traffic on Jefferson than on neighboring streets, but I do not believe that this makes it a good idea for St Luke's to take it away from us. The end result will be more traffic on Avenue B, Fort Street and Idaho Street, and more congestion is less safe for bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. 

I have walked through the pedestrian mall on the southwest side of the hospital (formerly Bannock Street), and there are many people, including children, using these sidewalks. The access on the east side serves the hospital entrance and emergency room as well as parking lot, and there is traffic flow moving in and out of these points. This is not a safe situation for a bike route proposed as an alternative to Jefferson Street.

If St. Luke's can afford this huge expansion, how about expanding OVER Jefferson Street, like what they did on 1st Street? This might be seen as a compromise, but would be a gesture of a good neighbor, and could give them the space they wish for their new facilities, without closing a street that serves the residents of northeast Boise.
Thank you,

Mary Hamerly 


Hi Hal,

I am writing to express my concerns with the expansion of the St. Luke's downtown campus.

First, I am adamantly opposed to closing Jefferson Street and transferring the right-of-way to St. Luke's. Jefferson Street is an important link between the East End neighborhood and downtown Boise. It is my understanding that Jefferson Street is scheduled to be converted from one-way to two-way from 1st to 4th Streets. Certainly any traffic studies will need to capture the changes to traffic patterns and volume when that conversion occurs. I have not reviewed the submitted traffic study and look forward to hearing from the City analysis of the study.

Speaking of traffic, I formally request that the City require St. Luke's to provide detailed data on employee origination/destination routes. The majority of the traffic to/from St. Luke's is caused by employees, not patients or visitors. I suspect St. Luke's has this information readily available since they are a major employer in the valley and participant in Valley Regional Transportation programs. I am expecting we will find that many (maybe even a majority) of employees come to St. Luke's from the west side of Boise/the Valley. How disappointing is must be, as an employee, to drive past the Meridian St. Luke's with all the surrounding property, only to enter into the east Boise traffic gridlock at the Broadway and Warm Springs/Idaho Street area. BTW, I asked St. Luke's directly to provide this information at one of their open houses, but the idea was dismissed.

How often have we talked about looking at economic development as a region, not as a city vs. city fight for the next big thing. This expansion is one of those important development projects that could/should, and hopefully will, find a home at a location that is more centrally located in our growing valley…on Eagle Road and I-84! BTW, I have not found a clear analysis of the economic impact of this project, will the City request one?

I am also concerned with the actual arrangement of the buildings that are being proposed. Even as I oppose this large expansion, I am disappointed to see that the proposed plan is not an appropriate design for an urban setting. The proposed plan is growing out, not up. Any upgrades to the existing campus should be of an urban design.

One of my issues is difficult to put into words but I think you can envision my concern. The expansion as currently proposed, especially in closing Jefferson to vehicular traffic, creates a “wall” between the East End neighborhood and downtown Boise. Of course this is not a true wall, but it certainly will be a perceived (and possible real) blockage to the easy and enjoyable flow of cars, bikes and pedestrians to and from downtown (and yes, I do walk, bike and drive from my home on Louisa Street to downtown Boise). I would compare this “wall” to the impact Front and Myrtle Streets have had on the expansion of downtown to the south. Sure, you can cross the street, but for many years and still even now, those connector streets block the easy movement of shoppers and residents in downtown. I think of the East End neighborhood as semi-downtown living and I know downtown merchants certainly depend on this close-in neighborhood and its residents as dependable customers. I don't think the downtown businesses will be pleased when East End residents opt to shop and dine elsewhere due to the St. Luke's “wall”.

I am not opposed to the current St. Luke's campus in our urban core and understand upgrades may be needed within the existing structures, but I think the City must look carefully at the scale and design of the proposed expansion plans to determine if they are appropriate for downtown Boise. The City must carefully consider how this expansion will impact existing valuable residential neighborhoods, already overburdened streets, and the safety of all citizens.

I am not convinced that this expansion, as currently planned, makes Boise the most livable city in the nation. In fact, closing public right-of-way and blocking neighborhood access to downtown does just the opposite.

Thank-you for your consideration of my concerns and I hope you will pass these comments along to the City Council members.

Jane Suggs


Dear Mr. Simmons:

Boise is known as one of America's most livable cities. 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 neighborhoods surrounding the downtown core can get in and out easily—whether driving, walking, driving or even using a wheelchair—without unacceptable barriers or risk.

Like many in the East End Neighborhood Association, I believe St. Luke's proposed expansion is inconsistent with the City's stated goals for a livable, connected city. This expansion jeopardizes the qualities that make Boise special in many ways.

Those traveling to and from the East End, Foothills East and Warm Springs Mesa neighborhoods already face growing delays at choke point intersections along Front and Broadway. This is made worse during sporting events involving Dona Larsen Park and/or Fort Boise, as well as activities at Outlaw Field and the Botanical Garden. The five-way intersection where Broadway, Warm Springs, Idaho and Main converge routinely sees traffic backed up for several blocks during peak hours.

This congestion poses additional risks when emergency vehicle traffic is involved, either from St. Luke’s or the Reserve Street Fire Station.

St Luke’s effectively controls three major routes between these neighborhoods and Boise’s downtown core: Bannock (currently closed to public traffic) and both Idaho and Main (controlled by the pedestrian signal installed to primarily benefit St. Luke’s employees moving to and from their parking structure to the south). Closing Jefferson would mean St. Luke’s exerting control over all major direct routes between neighborhoods to the east of Broadway and Boise’s downtown business district.

This is not only a barrier to resident mobility; it becomes a barrier to commerce as delays increase. Former downtown business patrons will inevitably find alternatives.

I strongly oppose public space being converted to private use. I am in full agreement with the EENA Board’s position below on the closure of Jefferson Street, as specified in their letter dated 4/25/14 to St. Luke’s CEO Chris Roth:

“The East End Neighborhood Association, Inc. opposes vacating East Jefferson Street between Avenue B and 1st Street.”

In its competition with St. Al's for market share, St. Luke's is proposing a suburban-scale development in a historic urban setting. I recognize several key problems with this proposal:

Their expansion requires a sacrifice and subsidy on the part of Boise residents and taxpayers who will be forced to endure longer commute times, more traffic congestion, and adverse impacts on community and economic sustainability and livability.

Their plan relies on the taking of a well-used public road connecting Boise's downtown to well-established residential neighborhoods to the east, which would become isolated from Boise’s downtown core and other neighborhoods.

Despite an established presence in Meridian with direct freeway access, St. Luke's has chosen an area of dense population and historic residential assets that is already heavily traffic burdened.

A cursory review of the area immediately surrounding St Al's indicates the potential impacts on the character of the residential neighborhoods and parks and recreation resources. Should St. Luke’s follow in St. Al’s footsteps, the area around their East End location will suffer the same fate.

St. Luke's is technically a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity, but Boise residents accessing treatment and services through their clinics and facilities pay property taxes that support public infrastructure and services; we also pay a high cost for their services—whether out-of-pocket, via insurance premiums, or through public support of indigent care.

While many of us appreciate St. Luke's and the health care professionals who work there, we are protective of our public space, neighborhoods and quality of life. Put another way, I’m not anti St. Luke’s just pro neighborhood and pro connectivity.

I stress the above points in my capacity as a long-time resident and taxpayer in Boise’s East End and also as a professional community and economic developer with 15 years’ experience working with Idaho communities on connectivity, development, land-use and public involvement. I recently had the honor of serving as one of eight facilitators during the Idaho Community Mobility Institute, sponsored by New Mobility West. This event focused on local government and its approach to connectivity, human-scale development and preserving public spaces. All of these experiences tell me that what St. Luke's proposes is counter to best practices, neighborhood connectivity and community mobility.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with city staff and the current Mayor and Council on many projects; I appreciate all you do for Boise and for your openness to public participation in making Boise a better place to live. I like and respect you guys.

As a former communications coordinator with sensitivity to organizational risk analysis and public perceptions, however, I must add the following observations for your consideration:
St. Luke’s hired former Boise Mayor’s Assistant Theresa McLeod to serve as their Director of Public Relations. While I respect all parties involved and do not question their integrity, this is an example of the all-too-common ‘revolving-door policy’ between the public and private corporate sector that often creates the appearance of a conflict.

Without question, Ms. McLeod is exceptionally talented and professional; because of her previous role as Mayor’s Assistant, she also likely has greater understanding of and access to the principal decision makers in City government, making her hire a particularly strategic investment prior to St. Luke’s expansion efforts. The residents of Boise cannot hope to compete with the level of knowledge and access to local government St. Luke’s currently enjoys.

I would also note the recently released documents involving St. Luke’s anti-trust trial, featured in the Statesman on 11/6/14. The trial points to St. Luke’s aggressive competition with St. Al’s and raises concerns for me, at least, about the means they will pursue to achieve the ends they desire.

While not directly related to the East End expansion, issues such as this raise more questions than they answer about St. Luke’s business practices and intentions.

In the end, I would encourage the City of Boise, ACHD and other local government entities to keep the public’s interest and perceptions in mind as you evaluate their proposal to heavily impact our unique city. Please don’t throw residents and taxpayers under the bus for the convenience and interest of St. Luke’s. We are counting on you all to protect Boise’s integrity and connectivity.

Respectfully yours,

Erik Kingston


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