- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Plans by Boise State to add 50 acres to its campus could threaten a local neighborhood.

The Idaho Statesman reports (https://is.gd/6WxShV ) the bigger campus would allow more room for academic, research and athletic facilities and more student housing. An estimated 20 new buildings could be added to the campus.

The plan also aims for a vehicle-free campus center, which could increase traffic elsewhere.

The neighbors who would be impacted by the expansion plans have mixed feelings about the plan. They support the university but are not happy about losing their homes or at least the neighborhood feel.

If Boise State grows as it expects, its student population will increase to 30,000-35,000 students in 30 years. The total campus population, including faculty staff, could reach 50,000.

Tim Allen, who has lived on Juanita Street for 23 years, has been keeping tabs on Boise State’s expansion plans.

“From what I can tell, where I am living is going to be a big thoroughfare or a parking garage,” Allen said.

“I have mixed feelings. I understand the need for the school to expand. I am an alumni; so are three of my children. One of them played football at Boise State. I am very much for the school and for the growth of the school,” Allen said. But his home has sentimental value.

“Our kids grew up here. This is hard on us,” said Allen, who does not plan to fight the expansion. He will stay until the last minute, however, and would like the school to give him some information now and a fair and equitable deal when it starts acquiring property.

The estimated 2 million square feet of new building space could include 2,000 new student beds, three parking garages, a new 500-seat fieldhouse and other athletic facilities.

The university spent almost two years framing its expansion after meetings with students, faculty, neighbors and the city. The State Board of Education signed off in August. Next, the university must get approval from the Boise City Council.

“This master plan represents our best effort to understand what we think the future looks like. … What we have in front of you is not an action plan, it’s a conceptual plan,” Boise State Associate Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Mike Sumpter told the Planning and Zoning Commission during an initial hearing on Dec. 14.

The university has an application before the city to rezone 39 parcels, totaling 11.56 acres, that it already owns. About a dozen of those properties are homes in Allen’s Juanita Street neighborhood.

Some of his neighbors feel the university should only be allowed to rezone property next to existing university parcels.

“I would like to see the city recommend against spot zoning. It is premature,” said Boise State communications professor Ed McLuskie, who lives nearby. He said spot zoning would make it inevitable that the university would move in his direction and would have financial consequences for current property owners.

McLuskie’s neighborhood is targeted for a new road, student housing village and two parking garages.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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