April 18, 2021

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What should Expo Idaho look like? Ada County releases new survey

3 min read

Ada County wants your input on the future of the Expo Idaho site.

For the next month, Ada County Development services opened a survey to hear residents’ thoughts on how the underutilized 247-acre complex off of Glenwood Street should be used. The county is in the second phase of its lengthy planning stage to develop the property, which includes public outreach and a financial analysis to study how much potential improvements will cost taxpayers.

You can take it here underneath the About Us section.

Three different scenarios

At the end of 2020, a Citizen’s Advisory Committee released three different scenarios for developing the site after a year of meetings and input from stakeholders. Should the site be developed with a focus on agriculture? What about a new multi-use sports and entertainment complex? Or change it to a mixed-use town center?

The advisory committee suggested the county blend elements of the three scenarios together to create a development plan for the site. Ada County’s Development Services spokesperson Brianna Bustos said the goal is to see what the community truly wants before plowing ahead with plans.

“Our hope is we can take these three scenarios and come up with a combination that fits most people’s priorities,” Bustos said. “We want to know what sticks out to you? What do you feel is unnecessary or not a top priority so as we start refining these scenarios we know where the public’s priorities lie as far as the uses and the overall theme.”

What about the fair and the Hawks?

One of the questions on the survey asks if the public would prefer to see the fairgrounds stay on site or move elsewhere. Bustos said the county would like to hear more about what the public would prefer before exploring other sites options. If the public would prefer it stay on Glenwood, they are open to it remaining in place.

The survey is taking a similar approach to the possibility of a new stadium for the Boise Hawks. Atlanta-based developer Chris Schoen and the baseball team’s owner Agon Sports & Entertainment met with the Ada County Commissioners earlier this year and expressed interest in a public-private partnership to develop on the site. But, Bustos said the county would like to hear if the public would like a new stadium from the public first before asking more specifics about working on Schoen’s proposal.

“Right now we’re trying to identify ‘does the public even want the Hawks to stay there’?” Bustos said. “Do they want an upgraded stadium? If the answer is yes, then we can start looking into those details and start looking at specific site plans.”

The county is also in the final stages of signing a contract with urban planning think tank Urban Land Institute for a fiscal analysis of developing the site. Under the contract ULI will analyze all of the possible development scenarios, how they could be paid for and what the total cost. Then, Ada County will release more specific proposals guided by the survey results to present to the public with a price tag.

“We want to come up with a financial scenario that is not only community-supported, but also financially realistic,” Bustos said.