We do our best to be on God's side, not assume He is on our side, and we seek to be humble in victory.
Dave Bieter for Boise
Outside magazine says that Boise is the best town in America, and featured the city the cover of one of their issues.
In the midst of such a great situation in which to raise our three little girls, I'm reminded of how my parents always used to repeat the idea that you don't get something for nothing. Thus. I was inspired by these words from a city council member:
It's time for an election. A city election. Few turn-out. Few understand the impact local races have on our lives. It has been my honor to serve you on Council. But without a strong team we can achieve nothing. Dave Bieter for Boise has served us well. Boise City Council Member Lauren McLean is a strong addition. And we have fresh talent in Vote Ben Quintana for Boise City Council. Ben represents what our city needs during difficult economic times. Please keep this on the radar. Let's go, Boise! - TJ Thomson
The thoughts below from the State of the City 2011 show why Mayor Dave Bieter is the right person to continue leading:
You know, we’re known as a destination for winter recreation for really just one reason: Bogus Basin is less than an hour away. Who better exemplifies the intensity of outdoor sports than that great extreme snowboarder, the pride of Meridian, Idaho, Mayor Tammy de Weerd.
During the other months we turn to different types of aerials: hang-gliding and parasailing. And nobody flies higher than the Mayor of the Stratosphere, the pride of Garden City, their own Mayor John Evans. John, I hope you didn’t take off from Hammer Flats to get that picture.
Outside magazine talked a lot about river recreation. They mentioned our River Recreation Park even though the park hasn’t been constructed. You can bet that one of the first ones to literally test the waters will be that great world-renowned stunt kayaker, our very own – I know you know who I’m talking about – our very own County Commissioner Vern Bisterfeldt.
Outside didn’t just talk about outdoor recreation; they referred to our innovative economy, our housing market, but most of all our cultural activities: the Shakespeare festival, the ballet, the philharmonic and the opera, and more recently the Trey McIntyre Project. I’d like to think that I contributed to our success in this area in my own small way.
I’m going to give you a minute to try to erase that image from your minds.
Bieter has of course, also been an effective leader on more serious matters.
This morning I want to talk about how these tough times have brought us together – and they’ve brought us success, even in these tough times, because we work together as a team. I want to talk about how cities in general and Boise in particular are places of innovation and places that will sustain our economy for the long haul. And finally, I want to talk about some great things that are just around the corner.
You know, we haven’t waited for economic development to come to us. Our economic development people in the city, our Planning and Development Services Department, all the departments across the city, together with our partner agencies at all levels, have gone out and worked on all of our behalf. I want to talk about some of those successes.
As was indicated, the Boise Valley Economic Partnership is an important team member. I want to recognize the new Executive Director, Mr. Clark Krause; I think Clark is here this morning. Clark, could you stand up; please recognize Clark. The City of Boise has recommitted our financial support to BVEP, and I would encourage every one of you to do the same. With Clark’s expertise and all our concerted efforts, we will attract the kind of businesses that are a good fit for Boise and our whole valley.
I like the way the mayor has partnered the city with Boise State University.
I want to commend Dr. Kustra on all the connections he’s made between the university and the city. Over the last year one of the great ones is Boise State’s Small Business Development Center. We took an underutilized city facility right across from City Hall and were able to house what we call the Greenhouse, which is an incubator for emerging companies, especially those with sustainable-energy technologies. I’m happy to say that seven new businesses are located in the Greenhouse, and we expect over the coming year that one of those businesses will graduate and be out on their own. I would like to recognize Boise State University for their efforts, not just on behalf of the university, but on the city as a whole. Thank you very much, Dr. Kustra.
And I agree with Bieter when he states that if you want to learn about business, you have to get out to where business happens.
That’s why we’ve gone out of City Hall and visited businesses and industries of all shapes and sizes across the city. I was happy to learn when we looked back that I have had 350 of these contacts over the last three years. We take our Economic Development people and go out to where you are, and we’ve learned so much at every one of those encounters.
On one of those trips, we came in contact with a local Boise company named Biomark, an emerging technological company. On the visit, we learned that their existing facilities really didn’t suit them; they were growing and looking for new space. We wanted to make sure that they looked here in Boise. We were able to connect them with an underutilized city-owned facility – the old Shaver’s warehouse located on 9th and River Streets. Biomark has agreed to renovate this facility in exchange for a long-term lease. We’re so proud of that partnership and know that these kinds of things will serve us well in the future. I want to recognize Dean Park, Biomark’s president, and the developer of this project, Mr. Mike Fery. Please stand up and be recognized; welcome them for their efforts.
As Paul mentioned, we have to look at the overall business climate in the City of Boise. We’re so pleased, as he indicated, that this past November Boise joined with the whole state to pass House Joint Resolution 5. HJR 5 is important to all of the airports in Idaho, but maybe none more important than the Boise Airport. We’re the most remote urban area in the lower 48. We’re more dependent on our airport for economic vitality. And to make a great city, Boise Airport has to be able to address new markets and new customers, and to take advantage of a favorable construction environment like the one we have now.
HJR5 gives us the flexibility to bring new airport facilities without delay, without taxpayer money. It really just amounts to taking our profits and investing them back into our business. Almost all of our competitors already have the power, and now thanks to the voters, so do we. There are too many individuals to thank this morning; I called on a number of you to help with the HJR5 campaign, and we needed every bit of it. We passed it by just 3½ percent, so all of your efforts made a difference. I want to especially thank Micron Technology for their generosity, and we couldn’t have done it without the Chamber. Please help me to recognize Bill Connors, the Chamber CEO, and Past-Chair Mr. Dave Terrell, and all of your efforts in passing this important legislation.
Another one of Bieter's successes has less to do with economic development and more to do with looking out for each other.
Some months ago, I had the honor of seeing off the soldiers of the 116th Brigade as they were deployed to Iraq. You know, it’s a little overwhelming to stand on the tarmac and wish these soldiers well when they face so much uncertainty and danger.
I came back to the office and started a discussion with our staff and with other families of the troops asking, “What can we do to help?” That’s why we implemented a program we call “Our Troops, Our Families.” It’s really reaching out in a special way with city services to help our military families. We had a “PC Day” to make sure the connection to their loved ones was as good as we could make it; our IT Department helped in that. We gave fire station tours to families, especially to the young children; we had “Free Day” at the Boise Zoo for military families, and the same at Idaho Ice World. On July 9th at Ivywild Pool, the City of Boise will also open it up free to military families to have a great summer day.
We know there’s nothing we can do to make up for their loved ones being overseas, but we want to do all we can to make the time pass a little easier, especially for the young people. I would encourage all of you in your business to help us out to leverage our resources further, and to make the wait these military families have just a little bit easier.
Our goal in the City of Boise is to make Boise the most livable city in the country.
A livable city is a city that looks to the future; a livable city is one that innovates.
This past year I think a very important book was published. The author’s name is Steven Johnson; he’s quite a well-known author. He wrote a book, “Where Good Ideas Come From”; the subtitle is “The Natural History of Innovation.” He actually charts the history of invention from the beginning of time to the present. The turning point for him was the creation of cities. He refers to cities as the engines of super-creativity, where ideas connect with other ideas across different professions. And cities are the places where those connections are made the most.
We know that he’s right; when software engineers and writers interact, when dancers interact with firefighters or teachers, dare I say when politicians talk to business people at breakfast, the pool of minds expand and the power of those minds increase. Johnson refers to this place as the “edge of chaos.” It’s the place where order and anarchy exist in a balance; it’s a place that’s flexible enough for new ideas to come about, but structured enough for those ideas to thrive. A great company strikes that important balance, and so does a great city.
When cities work, cities are able to withstand even the toughest economic times. That’s true not just of Boise but Garden City, Meridian, Kuna, Eagle, and Star. We’ve had our tough times, but we’ve all been able to see through them.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about faux cities called “planned communities.” You know, it’s been tough on a lot of people, but if we’ve learned one thing from this economic downturn, it’s that residential developments located far away from cities and city services are a flawed business model. I’ve been critical of leap-frog development in the past, but nothing makes the case stronger than the marketplace. They make the point more dramatically than I ever could. Fourteen planned communities were circling the runway, with thousands of residential units, just a few years ago; only two remain.
Cities are our present, but cities are also our future. Cities work best when we focus on livability, because livability gives us economic development, and economic development brings prosperity.
We’ve been fortunate to receive accolades from a number of national publications over the last several years, but I don’t know if any one of those means more than Outside magazine naming us the best town. It isn’t just that we weren’t just the top 10 or the top five; we were the best town. And I think even more important was how they decided that we were the number one place: because their definition of a great city, of a livable city, is really the same as our definition. It’s a third party that agrees with us.
I think increasingly it represents our brand, a brand that we need to work on over the coming years. Because they say, “You have an innovative economy; you have a housing market that’s reasonable; you have arts activities for a city of our size that’s second to none; you have recreational opportunities, and all of those aspects exist in one place close by.” Like I said, I think increasingly that’s our brand; we need to think about that and work on that over the coming years to push that out across the country.
We had a fair amount to do with our being number one, because they mentioned the River Recreation Park specifically. We were so pleased just a couple of months ago to be able to say that, thanks to the efforts of so many in these tough times, we have the first phase of the River Recreation Park fully funded. There are too many individuals and their generosity to thank, but I want to recognize the Friends of the Whitewater Park, who did important work in raising money; the Albertsons Foundation, which stepped up with two big important donations right when we needed them; and this great City Council – they stayed committed to this project in the toughest of times. Vern Bisterfeldt and his kayaking friends can get out on the river just a year from right now. So recognize all the effort and generosity that went into our success.
This success is all the more impressive because it happened in the toughest of budgetary times. Indeed, the City of Boise has eliminated between 40 and 50 full-time positions over the last few years for a savings of between $5 million to $6 million every year. We may see some further cuts, but our focus has been and will continue to be on our customers, our citizens. We’ve kept city services at a high level; in fact we’re always looking to expand the city’s services that give us good value.
This is a glass crusher; new, it costs around $500,000. We were able to purchase this machine for only $250 from Mountain Home Air Force Base. For years the citizens of Boise have wanted curbside glass recycling, but there hasn’t been a local market for glass, and glass is very expensive to transport.
There is a company in Boise called Environmental Abrasives; they’re a great local company, and their specialty is materials that polish and grind in industrial applications. Their research indicates that glass makes a great raw material for their products, and thanks to the glass crusher, we can give them all they need. That’s why I’m so happy to propose that this fall we’re going to offer voluntary curbside glass recycling. We can do it, we think, for less than $10 a month, and we anticipate that that amount will come down as more people sign up and we find markets for the glass.
We’re going to dedicate the glass crusher with an appropriate sparkling beverage in the next two months. And the great thing is, once we empty the bottle, we can just crush it.
Another area we are constantly looking to improve is our already world-class parks system. Unfortunately there are areas of the city that are underserved; the Bench in particular developed at a time when we didn’t have a comprehensive parks plan, and it’s really difficult to retrofit an existing neighborhood, a built-out neighborhood, with a park.
But thanks to the generosity of the Day family, they donated a 7-acre site at the corner of Kootenai and Federal Way. It is a beautiful site; it looks to the Foothills and looks over all of our city and the Boise State campus. We weren’t sure how we could really develop the Terry Day Park, but I’m proposing that we do it this year, that we green up the park, because the young people and the families in that neighborhood can’t wait for a park to come. They have to go to some distant park, so we’re going to do it this year. None of that would have been possible without the generosity of Pat Day. Pat, please stand up and be recognized; his generosity made this happen.
We can’t only depend on generosity; we have to look for opportunities to reshape a neighborhood in a positive way. You know, the school bond we passed a few years ago has just been great to us. We have new schools, and in those schools we have three new recreation centers that the city operates in conjunction with the school district. Our existing schools have been renovated in a way more beautiful than I ever imagined.
But there’s one instance, the old Franklin School site at Franklin and Orchard streets, where the loss of the school has really left a void in that neighborhood. That’s why we’ve begun discussions with the school district for the City of Boise to purchase a portion of that site and set that aside for a park so that neighborhood can enjoy that amenity. We have a little ways to go, but we’re committed to make that project happen; again, it’s something that can’t wait, so stay tuned.
Another project builds on previous successes.
We’ve talked about the River Recreation Park both here and over the last three years. That’s really just one part of many projects that are going on in that same area in the west part of downtown Boise. John Evans and I just dedicated the 36th Street Pedestrian Bridge across the Boise River that connects Garden City and Boise. It’s a beautiful project, and it’s fully completed.
ACHD will begin this coming year the 30th Street Extension, which is a wonderful thoroughfare that will connect State Street with Fairview Avenue. That thoroughfare will run right by what will be the Esther Simplot Park some day.
In 2003 the Simplot family donated a million dollars to the City of Boise, the final piece in securing 55 acres located right along the Boise River. I’m happy to report this morning that the Simplot Family has given the OK to do a final master plan of the park and to build the park over the next couple of years. Importantly to us, this next winter as we’re building the River Recreation Park, they’ve committed to build connecting streets, a parking lot, and restrooms to be built in conjunction with the River Recreation Park, so that facility can be fully enjoyed.
Esther Simplot Park will represent one of the biggest donations ever to the Boise parks system. It’s not just a wonderful amenity; it’s a catalyst, along with the other projects that I mentioned, for that area to just bust open. It’s a part of downtown that needs that kind of help. Join me in recognizing the generosity of the Simplot family.
What these projects show us is we have to have faith. “Act as if you have faith, and faith will be given to you.” That expression has been one of my favorites over a number of years. I was sure it had to be either the Sisters at Saint Joe’s or certainly Saint Paul. After looking, literally for hours, I found it was actually Saint Paul Newman, the actor, when he uttered that phrase at a critical point in one of his movies.
And so, too, are we at such a critical point. Cities can directly affect many aspects of civic life – public safety; orderly development; a clean, beautiful environment; and amenities to attract those businesses and where families want to raise their children. If we focus on those areas that we can directly affect, we’ll create the context for success. And we have to have faith that that success will indeed come.
This past winter, the JUMP and Whole Foods projects experienced some difficulties in the approval process. I know some of you thought that we might lose those projects. But I had faith – not just in the process, but faith in the people on all sides that we would come out the other end with better projects. And so we have two projects that are ready for construction.
Faith that if our Police Department worked with neighborhoods, our low crime would get even lower. For six years in a row, crime has dropped year over year, and in some categories, it’s dropped to the lowest point since we began keeping data.
Faith that the development pattern that this city encouraged would be sustainable over time. And the economy has proven that.
Faith, like many of you, that when the citizens of Boise stepped forward 10 years ago to tax themselves to purchase Foothills open space, that that activity and faith would lead to great places for our children and for their children – and so it has.
Faith that we’ll have the resources to build a first-rate transportation system, even if we have to take that upon ourselves and get the issue on the ballot directly.
And faith in the Simplot and whitewater parks.
I’m really talking about faith in ourselves, faith in our abilities, faith in our collective wisdom, faith in our city. I’m asking you to continue to have faith in yourself, to have faith in us, to have faith in Boise, faith that our best days are ahead of us.
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