City of Boise says it won’t release Murgoitio legal report, but emphasizes ‘NO plans’ for development

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The City of Boise is once again reaffirming its decision not to develop the Murgoitio park site at any point in the near future. 

The city also says it will not release the results of a report compiled by law firm Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell the city commissioned earlier this year to study the rules on how the roughly 160-acre Southwest Boise park site could be developed. The site was initially purchased by the airport in the 1990s and later transferred to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to be eventually developed into a park. 

But, hasn’t happened nearly 30 years later and the property, and large swaths of Southwest Boise nearby, were never annexed and remain outside of city limits. 

“The City of Boise has NO plans to develop the Murgoitio site,” city spokesman Justin Corr wrote in an email to BoiseDev, with the emphasis his. “If we did, we would heavily involve all stakeholders from day one, but again, the city has no plans to do anything with that site. The report you asked about lays out a path where the city could develop the land. But again, because I cannot stress this enough, the city is not planning to develop the Murgoitio site.”

Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell’s report is exempt from the Idaho Public Records Act because it falls under the exemption for attorney-client privilege. However, the city can elect to release documents that fall under this privilege if it so chooses, but in this case, is electing to keep it from public view.

Murgoitio Park
Satellite view of the Murgoitio Park site in SW Boise. Via Google Earth

A months long dispute

Over the summer, many of the park’s neighbors balked at a proposal Mayor Lauren McLean was considering to swap the Murgoitio site with the Harris Family for open space in the foothills. The Harris’ pitched to develop it with homes below the median price and build a 7-acre park instead of the full build-out envisioned under former Mayor Brent Coles. McLean ended talks of the swap in July and eventually nixed the idea of annexing the property for development altogether in August. 

Friends of Murgoitio Park, a group of neighbors fighting the deal, repeatedly alleged the city could not legally develop the land because it was funded by a grant from the FAA, which they claim restricted what the land could be used for. A BoiseDev investigation into documents from the era of the purchase, those produced by the Boise Airport and Friends of Murgoitio Park showed no definitive proof the purchase was funded by a federal grant and its development was restricted. 

The city commissioned the report from Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell over the summer to lay out a process for how the site could be developed to comply with FAA regulations around airport land. The Boise Airport purchased the property from the Murgoitio family in for $1.275 million in 1992. The city of Boise paid the airport $655,000 for the property in 1998. In order to remove the restrictive covenants the airport placed on the land, city officials said it would need to compensate the airport for the land by paying the $655,000. 

The Boise Airport paid Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell $9,667.50 to prepare their report on how the parcel could be developed, according to Corr. Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department reimbursed the airport $507.50 toward the report.  

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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