Group working on future of Expo Idaho, fairgrounds to start work this month

- Idaho Press

The Ada County Board of Commissioners is getting closer to selecting a group to help envision and plan the future of Expo Idaho and its old horse-racing track.

On a website that went live last week, the board released more information about the Expo Idaho Citizen’s Advisory Committee, which was announced in November as part of the county’s effort to determine best uses for the property now that the Les Bois Park horse-racing track has shut down. 

Candidates for the advisory committee have been invited to attend a town hall-style public meeting about the property’s future that will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Western Town event center at Expo Idaho, 5610 Glenwood St., Garden City.

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The 240-acre Expo Idaho property is home to a multitude of uses and buildings, including the now-defunct 63-acre horse track, the Expo Idaho buildings and event centers, Lady Bird Park, a trailer park and the Boise Hawks baseball park. The site may be best known as the home of the Ada County and Western Idaho fairs, but also hosts trade shows, livestock roundups, auctions and more. Les Bois Park, formerly Idaho’s largest horse-racing venue, closed in 2016.

What will happen with the site, and especially with the horse-racing facility, is what the committee will be taking a look at. But how the committee will come up with ideas for Expo Idaho and just how long the process will take is still in a nebulous phase.

“A lot of this will be guided by the committee, and when we meet with them, they will give us the idea of how they want it to look,” said Brianna Bustos, the Ada County Development Services outreach and education coordinator.

The committee, which will discuss the property’s potential and challenges, will be in charge of what their process will look like, how long it will take and what the recommendations for Expo Idaho will be. The public will also be asked to weigh in on ideas for the property. But when those final recommendations will be provided to the public and commissioners has not yet been nailed down.

“We don’t really have an official timeline,” Bustos said. 

The advisory committee will be made up of candidates who have a “track record of community involvement and that are representative of a larger group such as environment, business, land use, arts and culture, agriculture, parks and recreation, housing and finance, etc,” according to the website. Potential committee members have been proposed and considered. 

The board will also be selecting appointees from each of Ada County’s cities. Everyone on the committee will be appointed Feb. 4 in a commissioners’ vote. 

“The committee bylaws, which will be approved by the committee once formed, state that this is an advisory committee, and their counsel is nonbinding,” the website said. “Once the committee has made recommendations, the general public will be asked to provide input on those recommendations.”

The commissioners will not be making decisions about what to do with Expo Idaho until after the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and the public have made recommendations.

“We have Ada County’s most valuable asset sitting there … a magical property that could almost be everything to everyone,” Ada County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman KendraKenyon said in November.

Anyone who wants to make a comment or voice a concern can send an email to expoidahocac@adacounty.id.gov or fill out a form on the Expo Idaho Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s website. Go to adacounty.id.gov, then click on “Departments” and choose “Development Services” from the drop-down menu.

Thomas Plankhttps://www.idahopress.com/users/profile/tplank/
Thomas Plank covers the Ada County & growth for the Idaho Press. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasPlankIP or reach him by email at tplank@idahopress.com.
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