The City of Boise approved a plan to add hundreds of housing units, nestled right by the Boise River near downtown Boise.
But while developers still hope to make it happen, the future of the Trappers Island project is uncertain.
In 2019, the project to bring roughly 300 condos to an area adjacent to Kathryn Albertson Park came in front of Boise’s Planning & Zoning Department. Much of the testimony centered on concerns from residents on the Houston Rd. rim, which overlooks Kathryn Albertson Park.
Representatives for Joe Scott and Jamie Jo Scott provided renderings of the project as viewed from their homes – which differed from the renderings provided by the developer. The Scotts – father and daughter – own homes on Houston Rd. The pair are the heirs of Joe and Kathryn Albertson – the founders of the Boise-based grocery chain. They are not involved in Albertsons Companies today.
Double appeals followed the planning & zoning decision on the property, followed by a lawsuit by the Scotts. A year ago, a judge ruled against the Scotts, which presumably would have allowed the project to move forward.
Earlier this summer, the Trappers Island project was back in front of planning and zoning – but this time for something generally routine: a request for a two-year extension on approval of the project. The Scott family again weighed in.
Terry Copple, with Davison, Copple, Copple & Copple wrote to the city on behalf of the Scotts, objecting to the time extension – and to the extension being placed on the so-called “consent agenda” of business the panel deems routine.
“It is… clear that the applicant has sat on its rights and did not proceed with filing the amended application within the two-year period of time and thus cannot at this late date try to revive these two now void permits,” Copple wrote.
The P&Z panel approved the request for an extension, which Copple appealed. The appeal has yet to be heard by the Boise City Council.
Albertson Park access?
But the Scotts have been working on other fronts to stop Trappers Island as well.
One of the requirements placed on the project is a secondary access in the case of a fire. To accomplish this, Jayo Development hoped to build a bridge over the Settlers Canal that separates the Trappers project from Kathryn Albertson Park, with a road that connected to the parking lot of the park.
But Copple wrote the city in February of this year, telling them the family – and the JA & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation they control, were opposed to any such connection. BoiseDev obtained the letter under Idaho’s open records laws.
“We are taking this opportunity to advise you of the foundation’s strong opposition to the use of the park for any road access from any adjacent residential and commercial development which by its very nature is totally unrelated to the purpose of the park and contrary to the design of the park.”
The land under Kathryn Albertson Park was given to the city in 1979 by Albertsons grocery founder Joe Albertson and his wife Kathryn. The city later developed it into a nature-focused park, with aid from the grocery magnate’s foundation. The city recently made a series of upgrades to the park, again with money and involvement from the foundation.
Copple pointed out to the city that the deed for the park restricts what the city can do with the park. Copple said any use in the park must “contribute… directly to the walk-through public park concept,” and that the fire access for Trappers Island could threaten the city’s title to the park land. Copple specifically says that what they see as a violation could force the city to lose the park.
“(U)pon a violation occurring, the city would no longer own the park,” Copple wrote.
Boise tells Jayo park access won’t happen
Over the next few months, developers and representatives for Jayo met with city officials on a number of occasions. Records indicate Jayo looked at altering the Settlers Canal to make the connection work. Then, in June, Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway wrote Doug Jayo.
“My staff have brought the most recent design with proposed alteration of the Settlers Irrigation District canal to me for my review,” Holloway wrote to Jayo. “I asked legal staff to review the design to determine whether the design would violate the deed restriction contained within the instrument granting the city ownership of Kathryn Albertson Park. They concluded that the relocating canal, associated easements, or road would violate the deed restriction and consequently jeopardize the ownership of Kathryn Albertson Park.”
Jayo then requested a meeting with Boise Mayor Lauren McLean. McLean’s staff declined the request, pointing him back to Parks & Rec or legal staff. McLean’s spokesperson Justin Corr tells BoiseDev that neither McLean nor her staff met with Albertson Foundation members on the topic either.
McLean: ‘Hard decisions’ made
McLean served on the city council in 2019 when the Trappers Island project was in front of the panel on an appeal related to the project’s height. She backed allowing the project to move forward, in line with her general approach toward allowing additional housing in the city.
“This is one of those places in our city that is really special. The park is a jewel. This parcel is so unique,” McLean said in 2019. “We need to grow our housing. We know we are many homes short. And we need to do that as close to the downtown core as possible – which means dense and up, so our residents can live near where they work.”
Last month, McLean appeared at a ribbon-cutting event for upgrades to the park alongside the Scotts. BoiseDev asked her about the city’s decision to tell Jayo it would not allow the access.
“I voted for the project and I thought it was a good use,” she said. “We had to make some hard decisions on that because there were some disagreements, but one of the caveats is that the city not put its risk its association with this park. We are going to do everything we are supposed to do to protect our right to this park for our residents in perpetuity. That’s got to be what guides our decisions in regards to access and leaving it to the two parties to make that work.”
Jayo says he and his team will continue to look for ways to make the project happen.
“We are looking at alternate access routes to satisfy the city right now,” he said. “We haven’t secured that, but we are looking at it.”
Jayo said he is hoping the city might allow a wider entry point along Americana Terrace.
BoiseDev’s Margaret Carmel contributed reporting.