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Library project to adapt after questions raised about Anne Frank tree, garden

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Boise Library Expansion

A Boise tree with roots to the home of Anne Frank and her family during World War II will stay put after original designs put its future in question.

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Architect Moshe Safdie’s original design for a new Boise Public Library campus shows the removal of the tree and a surrounding garden dedicated to a survivor of the Holocaust who became ingrained in the Boise community in her later years.

But constituent concerns expressed to Boise City Council President Lauren McLean triggered a change on the tree and garden relocation.

The area of the Rose Beal Garden, outlined in red. It was not shown on this site plan from the City of Boise, and would be very close to the proposed new library building. Image composite: BoiseDev.

New tree with a long history

The tree grew from a three-foot sapling planted in 2009 – one of 11 planted across the US.

The sapling was grafted from a tree planted outside the secret annex where Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam. Frank came to international fame after her diary was published after her death in a concentration camp at the age of 15.

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The tree is part of the Rose Beal Legacy Garden, which leaders dedicated in 2014. Beal was born in Berlin, Germany in 1921. She grew up in Frankfurt and lived for six years under the rule of Adolph Hitler before she and three members of her family immigrated to the United States. In 2004, Beal moved to Boise and became a docent at the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.

Close proximity

“It’s like 10 feet away,” Boise Public Works Public Facilities Manager Rob Bousfield said. “It’s so close either the building needs to shift or the site needs to change”

“We are trying to protect the tree, we want to ensure the tree is protected,” Boise Public Library Executive Director Kevin Booe said. “I have a vested interest, I’m one of the founders of that memorial.”

Boise’s Communications Director Mike Journee said the tree and garden will stay put, and the library project will adjust.

“This next stage is all about adjusting, fine-tuning and making sure that everything is just right, and that would include (the tree),” Journee said.

Concerns over possible changes

The tree sits inside the Rose Beal Legacy Garden, which is behind the current Boise Public Library building.

Journee said representatives with the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which operates the memorial, reached out to McLean.

She raised concerns which led to a commitment to ensure the tree and garden remain in place.

McLean said she initially asked that any changes requested of the Anne Frank memorial go through the public hearing process.

“If indeed we were asking the Center to make changes, I said we should have a public session, just as we had with the Cabin,” McLean told BoiseDev – referring to the process initiated to move The Cabin Literary Center, which also is affected by the library rebuild plan.

The current project budget earmarks $300,000 for “Anne Frank Memorial.” Journee said the money will be used to ensure cohesion.

“It’s likely or quite possible that there is going to be some kind of need to integrate the campus with the memorial – whether or not that’s moving the Greenbelt or doing something else.”

Journee told BoiseDev last summer Safdie was not told to protect either the Cabin Literary Center campus or the Frank Memorial during his design concepts. The Cabin will relocate to an as-yet-unspecified location. Safdie was told he couldn’t include City-owned property currently occupied by Biomark.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter spoke at the Beal Garden dedication shortly after Beal’s death in 2014.

“It saddened me greatly to learn of her passing earlier this month, but I am so glad we are dedicating this garden in her memory,” he said. “I can’t think of a better way to preserve her legacy, and it will be a cherished landmark in tribute to all those who have fought for the dignity and well-being of oppressed people around the world.”

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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