Garden City recently lost its most vocal champion for renovation and redevelopment of the Ada County fairgrounds — also known as the Western Idaho Fairgrounds and Expo Idaho — but the city continues to push for changes to the 240-acre property viewed as critical to its future.
Councilman Mike Moser, who was in his second term on the council, announced in March that he and his wife were moving out of Garden City due to a “family commitment.” Attorney William Mitchell, 41, was appointed to replace Moser.
Last fall, Moser rallied fellow council members to mount a public campaign on the fairgrounds issue. That discussion was reinvigorated by the county’s plan to add historical horse-racing games at Les Bois, as well as $1.8 million in planned improvements to the facilities at the fairgrounds. A new entry gate, ticket booths and administration building are slated for completion in 2015.
The county fairgrounds property is an island in the middle of Garden City, and city leaders have long wanted to partner with the county to develop it as a city “heart,” or downtown.
On March 26, Garden City submitted written comments on the county’s planned improvements at the fairgrounds.
“We believe that both the County and the City has the same ultimate goal, to create the best community possible within the confines of our resources. With this being said, we have some concerns with the proposal,” the letter says.
It cites a Colliers International study that provided estimates on taxes generated by the land under different scenarios, including continued use “as is,” partial redevelopment and “clean slate” (complete redevelopment) of the property. Colliers concluded that the property wouldn’t generate any tax revenue if left as is, but could bring in up to $13 million a year if totally redeveloped.
In concluding its letter to the county, the city asked that its representatives be involved in the planning of Expo Idaho — on a project team or committee.
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