Impact fees pay for park, fire, police, street growth needs

Twin Falls used impact fays to fill the last 1.4-mile gap of its Snake River Canyon Rim Trail. Photo by Teya Vitu.

With population growth comes a need for new parks, fire stations, walking trails, and other amenities. Cities use impact fees to pay for them – ranging in Idaho from $2,000 to more than $5,000 for a new single-family home.

Idaho allows impact fees to be charged on residential and commercial development specifically for parks, fire, police and streets. Other states allow impact fees for schools, sewer and water, libraries, cultural facilities and other things. In Idaho, a cousin to impact fees – hook-up fees – cover sewer and water extensions into new subdivisions.

Impact fees are charged to developers but are typically borne by homebuyers. Impact fees of varying rates are also charged on apartments and other living dwellings as well as commercial structures.

Impact fees may sound like just a multi-thousand-dollar government penalty for buying a new home, but there are specific rules and limitations on how much jurisdictions can charge and how the money can be used, said Anne Wescott, a Boise impact fee consultant who was worked with 50 jurisdictions in the Intermountain West including several in the Treasure Valley.

“Impact fees are only about the capital side for infrastructure necessitated by growth,” she said. “Is it needed to serve growth? If not, it’s not eligible.”

Impact fees can pay for a fire station, a park, or a police station – but not for operations or maintenance. Impact fees can pay the entire cost or a fraction of the cost, depending on how much a given project is specifically defined as driven by growth vs. just the need of the existing city.

“The key piece of impact law is proportionalize,” Wescott said.

Jurisdictions – mostly cities but also districts such as Ada County Highway District – establish a list of projects to fund with impact fees and how much those projects are driven by growth to determine what the impact fees will be.

“It is third grade math, the cost of a capital project necessitated by growth divided by the new households,” Wescott said.

The impact fees are determined collaboratively between the city and development community.

Impact fees are overseen by advisory committees typically composed of developers, though in Boise’s case developers are joined by real estate agents, citizens at large, and utility representatives that make impact fee recommendations to the City Council.

“(The advisory committee members) feel we are doing it transparently and have a fair rate structure,” Boise Chief of Staff Jade Riley said.

Idaho cities typically require developers to pay for all the streets, parks and utility installation within their housing developments. The impact fees are generally for police, fire, park or street facilities outside a development but that are made necessary, at least in part, by new developments and population growth.

Many of the growing mid-size and larger cities in Idaho have impact fees.


Impact fees accounted to $500,000 in the $3.76 million construction cost of Meridian’s public safety training complex. Photo courtesy of city of Meridian.

Parks carry the largest impact fee charged by the city of Meridian, though Ada County Highway District’s impact fee more than doubles the total charged for a newly built single-family home in Meridian: $4,973.

ACHD charges $2,956 across Ada County. Meridian’s park impact fee is $1,113, while fire is $681 and police is $223. The parks impact fee was the first one in Meridian in 1996 with police and fire following in 2006, said Todd Lavoie, Meridian’s chief financial officer.

“The citizens made it very clear they love our parks,” Lavoie said.

Meridian used $6 million in parks impact fees in the past four years to build Reta Huskey Park, Hillsdale Park and Keith Bird Legacy Park – all in newly developed sections of Meridian – and will develop a 77-acre park site provisionally called “77 South.”

“That’s $6 million we didn’t have to collect property taxes from our city taxpayers,” Lavoie said. “Our property tax levy rate has gone down every year and we can thank impact fees for that.”

Parks are often the largest impact fee. Outdoor recreation is a priority across Idaho and city leaders are attuned to the need for parks to keep up with growth and impact fees are the practical way to fund them, impact fee consultant Anne Wescott said.

“Parks are expensive,” Wescott said. “Treasure Valley parks are directly related to quality of life. We want to be within a mile of a park. There is no way out of the general fund to fund them.”

Meridian applied $500,000 in police impact fees to a new $3.76 million public safety training complex that opened in September 2015. That’s proportionality at play: Growth is calculated to account for a 13 percent share of the cost to build the training complex.

Twin Falls

Impact fees allowed Twin Falls to fill the last missing 1.4-mile link of the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail that opened in 2017.

That stretch from Pole Line Road and Eastland Drive to the Evel Knievel jump site now gives Twin Falls a 7.5-mile continuous trail from the city-owned Shoshone Falls Park at the east edge of the city to Washington Street near the west edge.

“It changes the use of the trail significantly,” Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Director Wendy Davis said. “It creates easier access to views of the falls without having to sit in lines of traffic (to drive down to Shoshone Falls). In Idaho and in Twin Falls, a lot of people come to Idaho for outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Twin Falls had pieced the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail together over 24 years, starting in 1994 with the first .47 mile section near Canyon Springs Road. Numerous individual segments were eventually tied together with expansions in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2105 – but a gap remained until 2017.

Twin Falls started charging impact fees in August 2009 at $1,606 per single-family home. The rate has been increased four times since to the current $2,137, said Mitch Humble, Twin Falls deputy city manager of community development.

The impact fees are broken down to $301 for police, $670 for fire, $534 for streets and $632 for community parks. Twin Falls saw a 3.8 percent increase in impact fees in April, the largest increase, to fund portions of the main police station remodel and expansion into the old city hall space, building a new fire station and build a new community park, Humble said.

The police impact fee paid $900,000 of the $3.5 million main police station remodel and expansion. The parks impact fee paid the full cost of the $800,000 Snake River Canyon Rim trail segment. The street impact fee could fully pay for another new traffic signal, Humble said.

“For us, the impact fees have been helpful,” Humble said. “They helped us put up traffic signals we would not have been able to do.”

Twin Falls has collected $6.1 million in impact fees since 2009. The city has collected 25 percent less over those nine years than Humble originally expected because right after impact fees started, new home construction plummeted with the recession.

“We have not had the growth we thought we would,” he said.

Before the 2008 recession, Twin Falls issued some 550 building permits a year. Since then, the highest has been 236 permits.


Impact fees paid about two-thirds of the cost for the Nampa police department’s mobile command unit. Photo courtesy of city of Nampa.

Nampa started impact fees in 2007 for streets, parks, fire, police that currently add up to $1,806 for a single-family home.

The breakdown is $1,242 for parks, $185 for fire, $379 for streets with no current impact fee for police because of a surplus of unused impact fees in that account, said Patrick Sullivan, Nampa’s director of building safety and facilities development.

Nampa collected $1.658 million in impact fees in fiscal 2017 and $1.1 million in fiscal 2018. The city expects to collect $4.86 million in street impact fees in the next 10 years, $6.3 million in parks impact fees and $1.1 million in fire impact fees, Sullivan said.

“We go through the next 10 years,” Sullivan said. “What are the capital improvements attributable to growth?”

Impact fees will fully pay for 47 acres of Nampa park development over the next 10 years, including the 28.2 acres for Ora Brandt Park now under construction, he said.

Impact fees paid about two-thirds of the cost for the police department’s mobile command unit and the full cost of five Chevrolet Tahoe SUV’s and a SWAT transport vehicle that are attributable to population growth. Impact fees will pay for a new Fire Station 6 and a variety of street intersection improvements, bridges and culverts.

“Impact fees have met all the needs of growth,” Sullivan said. “They are able to pay for all the projects identified in the capital improvement plan. If we didn’t have impact fees, the burden of fire, police, parks and streets would fall solely on tax revenue. If we didn’t have impact fees, we’d have to pull more from the general fund.”

Idaho Falls and Pocatello

Idaho Falls does not have impact fees nor are they currently under consideration, said Kerry Beutler, assistant planning director in Idaho Falls.

“Developers pay for whatever they expect in utility work in sewer, power, roads as well,” Beutler said. “We have discussions coming up every once in a while about (impact fees for) parks and open space.”

The city of Pocatello does not have impact fees but does require various construction related fees be paid depending on the scope of a project.  Capacity and connection fees are also charged for connection into the City’s water and sanitary sewer system, city spokesman Logan McDougall said.


Boise tapped impact fees to convert a gravel pit into the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Preserve, a bird and wildlife habitat. Photo courtesy of city of Boise.

As the state’s largest city, Boise’s impact fee for single-family residential varies across the city with a wide range of park impact fees depending on where a housing development is placed.

If existing parks are near a development, the parks impact fee can be as low as $279, while developers (ultimately homeowners) at the fringes with no parks nearby could see a parks impact fee as high as $1,193.

The total impact fee on a single-family home in Boise ranges from $4,305 to $5,498, based on the seven park zones that Boise uses.  The city of Boise imposes $509 in fire impact fees and $235 in police impact fees and he Ada County Highway District adds a $2,956 street impact fee.

The city has collected $31 million in impact fees since collecting the park fee in 1994 and adding police and fire impact fees in 2008, city Chief of Staff Jade Riley said.

“Anything associated with pure growth we have been able to capture that with impact fees,” Riley said. “We believe in a capital perspective and equipment perspective, one-time capital costs, we feel our impact fee program has been very successful. “

Impact fees paid for the construction of Charles F. McDevitt Sportsplex, Optimist Park, Borah Park picnic shelter, Veterans Park shelter, Peppermint Park, Warm Springs Park restroom, Marianne Williams Park, Boise River Greenbelt widening and Oregon Trail extension.

Impact fees covered 71 percent of the cost of a new fire station in Harris Ranch. Photo courtesy of city of Boise.

Impact fees paid $422,877 of the $635,353 purchase price of the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve and another $422,000 to pave the parking lot in recent years.

The fire impact fee bought a brush truck and fire engine for a Harris Ranch fire station, the construction of which was 71 percent covered with $2 million in impact fees, which will also be used to build a northwest fire station.

About $1.8 million has been collected in police impact fees, which will go toward construction of or buying a building for a downtown police station.

The last fiscal year collected $3.1 million in impact fees for fire, police and parks combined. Impact fees will increase 1 to 2 percent in October, Riley said.

Census says Meridian hit 99,926 residents back on July 1

Meridian’s Generations Plaza. A recent report from the U.S. Census says the southern Idaho city is the 10th fastest-growing metro area in the United States. File photo.

Meridian is the 10th fastest-growing city in the United States among cities with at least 50,000 residents behind five Texas cities and suburbs of Phoenix, Denver, Nashville and Des Moines, according to the U.S. Census bureau’s annual estimate of city populations.

The Census pegs Meridian at 99,926, as of July 1. Since that time, however, Meridian has added an estimated 22 residents per day to get closer to the 106,410 estimated on April 1 by the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho.

The official national population estimate tapped by all sorts of entities when mentioning population will keep Meridian below 100,000 for at least one more year.

The Census calculated a 4.6 percent population gain for Meridian in the one year up to July 1, more than four times the 1.0 percent growth across 287 cities in the western states with a population above 50,000. Bend, Oregon, ranked as the 12th fastest growing city at 4.3 percent, reaching 94,570 residents.

Frisco and New Braunfels, both in Texas, at 8.2 percent and 8.0 percent population growth for the year July to July, respectively, were the nation’s two fastest growing cities, according to the Census. COMPASS calculated 8.5 percent growth for Meridian for April to April.

The population and percentage differences between the Census and COMPASS don’t concern Boise Valley Economic Partnership researcher Ethan Mansfield much.

“If it’s off by 5,000, it’s not a big deal,” Mansfield said. “The Census may be slightly less accurate and less timely. My thought is these are all estimates anyway. And, frankly, that’s what COMPASS is doing as well. BVEP always uses Census numbers. (Clients) can fact check Census numbers. We can compare them across every region of the U.S.”

The Census has Nampa at 93,590 with COMPASS’s count nine months later at 98,370. Boise is at 226,570 with 1.4 percent growth over the prior year, according to the Census Bureau, and COMPASS has Boise at 232,300.

In Idaho, however, Post Falls had the fastest growth rate among larger cities at 5.6 percent, reaching 33,290 residents on July 1, according to the Census, a 1,757 person increase from 2016.

Post Falls passed Lewiston from 2016 to 2017 to become Idaho’s ninth largest city. Post Falls has been Idaho’s second fastest growing city behind Meridian since 2010, according to the Census,

Among Idaho’s other larger cities, the 2017 population estimate for Idaho Falls is 61,077, Pocatello is 55,193, Caldwell is 54,660, Coeur d’Alene is 50,665, Twin Falls is 49,202, Post Falls is 33,290 and Lewiston is 32,820.

In other sizeable Idaho cities, Eagle has 26,089 residents, Kuna 19,210, Garden City 11,890, Moscow 25,146, Chubbuck 14,869 and Ammon 15,540.

The 2.1 percent one-year population growth in Twin Falls doesn’t tell the whole story, city officials said.

“There is so much daily influx of people requiring services that don’t live here and don’t pay taxes here,” Mayor Shawn Barigar said.

Twin Falls has a service area of 250,000 to 300,000 people stretching from Elko to as far away as Stanley for retail, advanced medical care and education, Twin Falls City Manager Travis Rothweiler said.

“Any given day, our population increases 70 percent to 85,000 (with people coming into town for the day),” Rothweiler said. “Twin Falls has 77 sworn police officers. The city has determined that 48 percent of traffic citations are issued to visitors and 27 percent of paramedic calls are for visitors.”


Housing is not booming as it was in the early 2000s

In the same fastest-growing cities news release, the Census Bureau also addressed housing unit growth since the 2010 Census. All the more populated counties in Idaho and across the western states added homes in the top “more than 5 percent” category. Custer, Power and Shoshone were the only Idaho counties that did not add at least 2 percent to their housing stocks.

Comparing the housing boom of 2000 to 2007 to the recovery and ascending years of 2010 to 2017, however, the Census has Idaho’s more populated counties at the bottom of the chart with today’s housing production at least  5 percent lower than the early 21st century.

Clark and Minidoka were the only Idaho counties producing at least 2 percent more homes now than in 2000 to 2007. Nearby Elko and Lander counties in northern Nevada were the only counties in the seven westernmost states that built more than 5 percent the number of homes in the 2010s than in the 2000s.


Population growth 2010 to 2017
The population growth rate in Idaho’s 10 largest cities from 2010 to 2017
Meridian: 31.0 percent
Post Falls 20.0 percent
Caldwell: 18.1 percent
Coeur d’Alene: 14.7 percent
Nampa: 14.4 percent
Twin Falls: 11.1 percent
Boise: 8.7 percent
Idaho Falls: 7.0 percent
Lewiston: 2.9 percent
Pocatello: 1.8 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Nampa will lose its Kmart

The 44-year-old Kmart in Nampa is scheduled to close in August. Photo by Laura Clements.

By August, Idaho will be down to two Kmart stores in Twin Falls and Lewiston.

The liquidation sale started May 17 for the Kmart in Nampa, a fixture on Caldwell Boulevard since 1974. The leased store is expected to close in August.

Kmart has closed more than 500 stores since 2008, with the Boise store shuttering in March 2016, the Coeur d’Alene store closing in October and the Ammon store following in January.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and have accelerated the closing of unprofitable stores as previously announced,” a Kmart spokesman said in a statement. “This is not an effort solely aimed at cost savings but is part of a strategy we have been executing against as many of our larger stores are too big for our needs.”

The building measures 84,210 square feet and was built in 1974, according to the Canyon County Assessor.

The Nampa Kmart is an isolated closure, not part of a wave of Kmart closures, such as the 45 closures announced in November that claimed the Ammon store or the 64 store closures announced Jan. 4.

“Having fewer stores – and the right format – will help us bring Sears Holdings to a size and place to meet the realities of the changing retail world,” the Kmart spokesman said.

The liquidation sale started May 17 for the Kmart in Nampa. Photo by Laura Clements.

Kmart is owned by Sears Holdings Corp. and had 432 Kmart stores as of Feb. 3, down from 2,000 stores in 2000.

The city of Nampa is already thinking redevelopment of the property, which lies across the freeway from Treasure Valley Marketplace.

“That building is a little aged and has not had any facelifts in many years,” said Beth Ineck, Nampa’s economic development director. “There’s always opportunity. That corner is a prime site for redevelopment and revitalization.’

The loss of Kmart is not a huge blow for Nampa, and the low unemployment rate should absorb most Kmart employees into new jobs, Ineck said.

“We have grown tremendously in our retail offerings in the past 10 years,” Ineck said.

The Idaho Press Tribune first reported this story.

Old Nampa hospital still up for grabs

Saint Alphonsus Health System is willing to donate its shuttered Nampa hospital. Photo by Teya Vitu.
Saint Alphonsus Health System is willing to donate its shuttered Nampa hospital. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The doors have been locked at the old Saint Alphonsus Medical Center on 12th Avenue since June 19, a fluttering flag in front of the structure the only acknowledgment that Saint Alphonsus Health System is working behind the scenes to find someone to take the keys.

A couple years ago, the state of Idaho considered obtaining the 241,000-square foot, four-story 1968 structure originally built as Mercy Medical Center.  Saint Alphonsus officials were willing to donate the property, but the state declined.

“Saint Alphonsus is continuing to assess options for their former hospital located at 12th Avenue Road in Nampa,” said Brad Hoaglun, Saint Alphonsus’ director of marketing, communications and public relations at Saint Alphonsus Health System, in a prepared statement. “When Saint Alphonsus announced the building of their new hospital at I-84 and Garrity Boulevard, it also announced that the former hospital site could be donated to an organization that would be most beneficial to the Nampa community.”

Saint Alphonsus moved its main Nampa hospital from 12th Avenue to the new Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Nampa I-84/Garrity on June 19. On Sept. 27, the two-story, 40,000-square-foot Saint Alphonsus Neighborhood Hospital opened in front of the recently shuttered 12th Avenue hospital.

“Several different entities have looked at the former hospital and some have been in discussions with Saint Alphonsus about utilizing the site,” Hoaglun said. “Saint Alphonsus is willing to donate the building to an entity, most likely a non-profit or government service, which serves the Nampa area.  Saint Alphonsus is not looking to retain ownership of the building or property.”


Icon Credit Union opens Nampa branch

Icon Credit Union has expanded into Nampa by purchasing the former Chase branch building downtown.

“We had members banking in Boise, who live in Canyon County, who have requested a branch for several years,” said Amy Rovig, newly hired director of marketing for the credit union, which is headquartered in Boise and has five other branches. “When an open building became available, we looked at it and looked at the demographics. It was a great decision based on members’ wants and needs.”

The building, at 164 E. Maine St., is being renovated and is slated to have a soft opening around May 7, with a grand opening event at the end of June, Rovig said. The branch manager will be JJ Belyeu.

Syngenta expands Nampa facility for corn genetic research

Syngenta is adding an indoor corn genetic research facility. Image courtesy of Syngenta.
Syngenta is adding an indoor corn genetic research facility. Image courtesy of Syngenta.

Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta will build an indoor corn genetic greenhouse facility alongside its existing Nampa Research Station on U.S. 20/26 in Canyon County.

The $30 million Trait Conversion Accelerator will enable Syngenta to move indoors at one location the corn genetic research that the company now carries out in outdoor fields in several states and Chile, said Dirk Benson, head of seed development/product section at Syngeta’s Nampa facility.

“This addition puts the Nampa site in the top tier of importance for Syngenta,” Benson said. “By adding this activity to the Nampa site, this increases the viability of the site in the Syngenta global network.”

Syngenta scouted more than 10 sites in North America before settling on Canyon County. The company was drawn by the Columbia River power grid, a reasonable climate for heating and cooling, an educated work force, the region’s agricultural mindset and being an “attractive place to live,” Benson said.

Benson would not disclose the square footage for the expansion, and Syngenta has not yet applied for a Canyon County building permit, said Dave Curl.

Syngenta, however, has started site work, which is allowed without a permit. Benson expects the Trait Conversion Accelerator to be complete in about one year.

The corn genetic research focuses on genetic improvements to increase crop yield along with insect control and herbicide tolerance. The corn research is primarily for Midwest farmers, Benson said.

Syngenta’s existing facility in Canyon County is a 19,341-square-foot office, greenhouse, and agriculture storage structure, according to the Canyon County Assessor. The Nampa Research Station was built by a predecessor company in 1988-89.

Syngenta’s Nampa facility carries out seed research and production research for vegetables, particularly garden beans, snap peas and sweet corn, Benson said.

Syngenta is the result of a 2000 merger of Novartis and Zeneca Agrochemicals, both of which had undergone a number of mergers in the 1990s.

Frugals shakes, rattles and rolls in Nampa

A 1950s themed Frugals burger shop replaced the Squeaky Clean Car Wash in Nampa. Photo courtesy of Terry Kramer.
A 1950s themed Frugals burger shop replaced the Squeaky Clean Car Wash in Nampa. Photo courtesy of Terry Kramer.

The four-store Frugals 1950s retro hamburger chain opened its first new restaurant in 17 years March 5 in Nampa.

The Nampa location, on the site of a former Squeaky Clean Car Wash, is also the first franchise operation for the Port Angeles, Washington, family business that has Frugals in Port Angeles, opened in 1988, Tacoma (1990), Auburn, Washington (2000), and Kalispell, Montana (2001).

Kalispell residents Terry and Deb Kramer are not involved with the Frugals there, but noticed it was doing a booming business. Terry Kramer built Burger King and Popeyes Louisiana Ktichen restaurants next door to Frugals, and said he noticed there were typically more cars at Frugals.

Kramer made inquiries about becoming a Frugals franchisee just as Frugals was ready to expand into franchising.

“We were going to go to Spokane but Washington is raising its minimum wage,” Terry Kramer said. “(Frugals) said ‘We want you to go to Boise. It’s a fast-growing place.’”

Thornton Oliver Keller Commercial Real Estate pointed the Squeaky Clean property out to Kramer. He said he was willing to go through the extra expense of demolishing an existing structure at 704 12th Ave. Road because it was a “grade A location.” Datum Construction of Meridian was the general contractor.

“Nampa fits with what Frugals is: a mom-and-pop operation with fresh-made food,” Kramer said. “We don’t belong at The Village (at Meridian).”

Kramer, however, does plan to commit to a second Frugals somewhere in Boise later this year and another in Missoula, Montana. He anticipates three to five Frugals in the Treasure Valley and future ones in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Pocatello.

Frugals outposts in Kalispell and Nampa

How did Kalispell, Montana, get a Frugals while the other three Frugals are in western Washington? And why is the company headquarters in Port Angeles, Washington?

Company founders Peter and Sheila Stewart were raising their family in Kalispell, while Sheila Stewart jointly owned property with her brother in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Frugals started in Port Angeles and then expanded to Tacoma and nearby Auburn. The Stewarts then opened the Kalispell store in 2001.

No stores were added after that.

“We always had a lot of franchise interest,” said Tyler Clifford, Frugals business development manager. “We didn’t have the resources to fully explore that.”

Clifford joined Frugals two years ago half-time while also working at Nike’s corporate headquarters in Portland, Oregon. One year ago he went full-time at Frugals and set up the company for franchising.

His mother, Laurie Macarty, is the Frugals CEO after starting as its bookkeeper in the early years.

“We’re looking at doubling the store count in the next two-three years,” said Clifford, while helping out at the Nampa Frugals during the opening weeks. “Right now, we decided to go slow. Now we’re focused on staying in the Northwest.”

The Nampa store is the trial location for Frugals to fine-tune its franchising operation.

“Now we’re 100 percent focused on Nampa,” Clifford said. “Once we have the Kramers ready, we can open the door. We’re not even advertising that we’re open for franchising.“

The open-day, opening-week, opening month volume at the Frugals in Nampa surprised the Kramers and Frugals management.

“We didn’t anticipate this much volume in the first week,” Clifford said.

Kramer reported to Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. that 2,500 burgers and sandwiches were served in one two-day period. The Frugal Burger costs $2.59.

“It’s been absolutely crazy,” Kramer said told the Idaho Business Review. “We did not advertise, did not do social media. We turned on the lights and people were there. People love shakes in Nampa. We’re selling more shakes here than any of the other stores.”

Frugals captures alternative financing

Missoula-based Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp. issued a near $900,000 loan, the primary financing for Frugals in Nampa. Montana & Idaho specialize in financing for projects not quite bank-ready.

Kramer said he was in extended conversations with a Montana bank but the project was moving forward without a loan issued. He said the bank turned to Montana & Idaho CDC  to issue a joint loan, but Montana & Idaho CDC chose to carry the loan by itself. Kramer recalled Montana & Idaho had a loan ready in four days.

Montana & Idaho CDC has financed popular Idaho businesses such as Richard’s (the downtown Boise restaurant), Zeppole Baking Co. and Tin Roof Tacos.

NNU starts on its new student commons

The new Northwest Nazarene University student commons will replace a student union from the 1960s.
The new Northwest Nazarene University student commons will replace a student union from the 1960s. Image courtesy of Northwest Nazarene University.

The 1960’s-era student union at Northwest Nazarene University will give way to a new 48,000-square-foot student commons more suitable for 21st century sensibilities.

The Nampa university will start construction March 9 on the $16.5 million, two-story structure with an anticipated 16- to 18-month building period, said Mark Wheeler, NNU’s vice president for external relations.

“Just with the march of time, (the existing student union) no longer addresses the needs of our students,” Wheeler said. “There’s only so much you can do with paint and carpet.”

The existing student union will be converted into academic space.

The new student commons will have what Wheeler calls a “white box,” an open room with glass walls on two sides that can accommodate 400 people for campus meetings, dinners and chapel services. The building will also house the student life and student government offices, the university mission ministry and a new welcome center.

“Now the welcome center is just a part of the admissions office,” Wheeler said.

The student commons also will have a kitchen, cafeteria, dining, dining venues, and private and board meeting rooms.

The dining hall at the new student commons at Northwest Nazarene University. Image courtesy of Northwest Nazarene University.
The dining hall at the new student commons at Northwest Nazarene University. Image courtesy of Northwest Nazarene University.

The student commons will be NNU’s fourth largest structure along with the Brandt Center, the Johnson Sports Center, and the 60,000-square-foot Leah Peterson Learning Commons, the new library that opened in 2014. Wheeler said fundraising accounts for the entire $16.5 million with no use of state funding or student fees.

“This building will redefine what our campus looks like,” Wheeler said.

The designer is Credo, a Whitsett, North Carolina, and De Pere, Wisconsin, architecture firm that specializes in higher education. Hill Construction Co. of Meridian is the general contractor.

Nampa seeks to face loss of ag land head-on

Idaho farmland.
Idaho farmland. A Boise State University report predicts as much as 240,000 acres of Treasure Valley farmland could be lost to development by 2100. File photo.

Idaho farmland is being gobbled up by the minute to house the swelling population in America’s No. 1 fastest-growing state.

While some rural areas, such as Lemhi County, have programs in place like the Lemhi Trust to preserve farmland, the Treasure Valley does not.

“Where’s the leadership?” said Patricia Nilsson, a panelist at the fifth annual Nampa Ag Forum Feb. 6 at the Ford Idaho Center.  The event was attended by more than 350 people. Nilsson is Canyon County development services director.

“I’m not sure who my leader is,” she said.

Funding is another variable each community needs to figure out. Nilsson recalls a Pennsylvania county she once lived in passed two $50 million bonds to fund conservation efforts.

Patricia Nilsson
Patricia Nilsson

A Boise State University report predicts as much as 240,000 acres of Treasure Valley farmland could be lost by 2100 as Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell and the small cities merge into a single populated mass.

Boise State has determined that as many as 80 percent of Treasure Valley residents are at least mildly concerned if not strongly concerned about the loss of farmland in the immediate Boise metro area, said Jodi Brandt, a Boise State environmental sciences associate professor.

“You never hear anyone say ‘Yes, I want this valley filled up with people,’” said Brandt, a speaker at the forum.

Brandt was co-author of Boise State’s October 2017 “Projecting Urban Expansion in the Treasure Valley to 2100.” The report found that the urban land area in the Treasure Valley increased by 10 percent from 2001 to 2011, while farmland decreased by 5 percent.

Farmland is often protected with conservation easements, a voluntary binding agreement to prevent development. This involves finding willing ranch and farm owners and finding the money to buy these easements if they are not donated, panelists said.

The Lemhi Regional Land Trust in Salmon used conservation easements to protect 13 farms and ranches totally 14,000 acres, all within designated salmon mitigation areas near the Lemhi River. Seven were purchases for $14 million. Another six were donated, said Kristin Troy, the trust’s founding executive director.

Kristin Troy
Kristin Troy

Properties range from 5,000 acres to 13 acres on the banks of the Lemhi River. Troy added the appraised value of the protected land is $26 million.

“One ranch has 4 miles of Lemhi River frontage,” Troy said. “This is a voluntary program.”

Lemhi County ranchers and farms embrace Troy’s campaign, which she launched in 2005.

“The demand for our services always exceeds our resources,” Troy said.

The trust tapped mitigation funding from the Bonneville Power Administration for nearly all the purchase costs for conservations easements, she said.

Troy stressed at the forum that one size does not fit all in preserving agricultural land. Every region must find its own ways to convince property owners and fund easement purchases. First off, a leader is needed, she said. That’s the role assumed by Troy, a lifelong resident of the county who owns the company Idaho Adventures.

Pick the right fight to conserve farmland

The Lemhi trust team acknowledged that not all farmland can be preserved.

“You have to be strategic,” said panelist Merrill Beyeler, chairman of the Lemhi Regional Land Trust. “There are certain ag lands we cannot live without. Identify the lands we absolutely need to have for agriculture.”

Ranches and farms are sold for two principal reasons: retirement, and market conditions that mean owners can make more money selling their acreage than farming or ranching it.

A conservation easement is an exit strategy.

“When you talk about an exit strategy, you better talk about an entrance strategy,” Beyeler said. “How is a new owner going to enter the field? The biggest problem is the price of land. Those prices almost make it impossible. You can reduce the cost of entry and still compensate the owner.”

Colorado offers a conservation easement tax credit. Oregon in 2017 launched an Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program.

State Sen. Todd Lakey, a Nampa Republican, prefers local solutions rather than state dictates.

Todd Lakey
Todd Lakey

“It’s best if ag folks are making money,’ Lakey said.

Lakey and Ashton Shaul, a Future Farmers of America competition winner and Meridian High School senior, lean toward biotech, which they said is a more efficient use of less farmland.

“Urbanization does not have to be the death of the ag industry,” Shaul said as a forum speaker. “Biotech is not our enemy. Biotech will allow more food on less land.”

New Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling launched the Nampa Ag Forums five years ago while CEO of the Nampa Chamber of Commerce, which still organizes the forum. Kling’s grew up on a Kansas farm.

“There will always be a need for food,” Kling said. “The ag industry carried us through the Recession. If you don’t have a plan to address the loss of ag land, we won’t have the industry.”

Arby’s will build a second location in Nampa

The second Arby's in Nampa will have a similar look to this one. Photo courtesy of U.S. Beef.
The second Arby’s in Nampa will look similar to this one. Photo courtesy of U.S. Beef.

Nampa will get a second Arby’s on 12th Avenue at the former Pizza Hut site near Northwest Nazarene University.

PETRA Inc. of Meridian started construction on Jan. 9 and the opening is expected in April. PETRA also built the Arby’s that opened in Eagle in November.

The two Arby’s are the first that franchise holder United States Beef of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has built in Idaho. The development agreement with Arby’s calls for a third new Arby’s to be built in Idaho by 2021 with the likely location in northwest Meridian, said Lynn Conard, vice president of real estate at U.S. Beef.

Conard is hoping the additional Treasure Valley stories will build exposure for Arby’s in a region where performance has “perplexed” Conard.

“The average volume isn’t as high as we think it should be,” she said.

Nampa will be only the fourth city in Idaho with two Arby’s along with Boise, Lewiston and Idaho Falls. In all, Arby’s has 20 stores in Idaho in 17 cities, though U.S. Beef owns only  half of them.

The first Nampa Arby’s opened on Caldwell Boulevard in 2004.

“We’re not looking at other franchises in Idaho,” Conard said. “If somebody is interested in selling, we’d be willing to look at it.”

U.S. Beef owns 10 of the Arby’s in Idaho. It acquired seven locations in Boise, Meridian, Nampa, Twin Falls, Chubbuck and Pocatello in a single acquisition of 47 Arby’s in Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming in Dec. 2013. U.S. Beef acquired two Arby’s in Coeur d’Alene and Hayden in May 2017 while acquiring two franchises in Washington with 10 Arby’s, including the two in northern Idaho.

U.S. Beef is the largest franchisee for Arby’s with 365 stores in nine states in an east-to-west continuous band: Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington. Overall, Arby’s has 3,367 stores in 48 states and seven countries.


Nampa won’t sell Idaho Center land

Nampa City Council voted on Jan. 16 not to sell surplus property near the Idaho Center. So a manufacturing facility hoping to locate there will need to find a different site.

photo of Beth Ineck
Beth Ineck

“We had been approached by a couple of companies about siting a manufacturing facility in the area,” said Beth Ineck, Nampa’s economic development director. The parcel, which was first 17 acres and then reduced by a lot-line adjustment to 16.26 acres, was further reduced to 10 acres after it was ascertained that events at the horse park outside Idaho Center often used the parcel even when it wasn’t officially part of the event, she said. To begin the process, the parcel was declared surplus in November, and a public hearing was held on January 16 was to determine whether the city would sell 10 acres, 16.26 acres, or nothing.

Now that the council has voted not to sell the property, the unnamed company – which was new to Nampa and could have brought the area at least 40 food processing jobs – is “back to square one,” Ineck said. Another company that approached the city about the property had put its project on hold internally, she said.

Newly elected Nampa mayor Debbie Kling, formerly the Nampa Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, said she wants to revitalize an Idaho Center citizens’ advisory committee that went dormant when the center switched management companies, Ineck said. “One thing that came out very clearly is that the city needs to generate resources for capital improvements” to the 20-year-old facility, she said.

Idaho Urologic Institute builds new Nampa clinic

Idaho Urologic Institute is building a new clinic in Nampa. Image courtesy of Idaho Urologic Institute.
Idaho Urologic Institute is building a new clinic in Nampa. Image courtesy of Idaho Urologic Institute.

Idaho Urologic Institute broke ground Jan. 9 on a new Nampa clinic near the relocated Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Nampa I-84/Garrity.

The new, 3,600-square-foot urologic institute will be on Hunt Avenue, across the freeway from Saint Alphonsus and near the Ford Idaho Center. The group’s previous Nampa location was a 2,000-square-foot building, now closed, across the street from Saint Alphonsus’ former Nampa hospital on 12th Avenue.

The new, larger Nampa structure will allow Idaho Urologic Institute to have three urologists working at the same time. In the old location, three urologists rotated one a day, CEO Greg Feltenberger said.

Construction is just starting on a new Idaho Urologic Institute clinic in Nampa across from the Ford Idaho Center. Image courtesy of the Idaho Urologic Institute.
Construction is just starting on a new Idaho Urologic Institute clinic in Nampa across from the Ford Idaho Center. Image courtesy of the Idaho Urologic Institute.

Idaho Urologic Insitute was established in 2005 as 10 independent urologists unified their existing offices in Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Mountain Home under one banner. Early on, a new office was built in Meridian and this $800,000 Nampa office is the second built from the ground up, Feltenberger said.

The new Nampa clinic with nine exam/treatment rooms and one procedure room is expected to open in July or August.

Dave Evans Construction of Boise is the architect and general contractor.