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Eye On Boise

Blast from the past

I was surprised to get a call from the head of special collections at the BSU library, where they’re cataloging some new document collections they’ve obtained from the state library. Included is a collection of documents regarding the Boise Redevelopment Agency from a key time, the late 1980s, when the city abandoned plans for a huge downtown mall – for which full blocks of the downtown area had been leveled over the previous two decades – and instead began redeveloping the downtown core with a mix of uses. Alan Virta was trying to trace down who had compiled the documents, and several clues in the files led him to me. Sure enough, the files appear to be, at least in part, those I kept as the city hall reporter at the Idaho Statesman in those years, assigned to cover downtown redevelopment. Included were handwritten notes (of mine) from BRA board meetings, a 1987 public records request I submitted to the agency, minutes, studies, budget reports, etc. Virta even found an original memo from the late Bob Loughrey, then BRA director, proposing creating a new event to be called “Alive After Five” to draw people downtown after business hours. “Alive After Five” is now a Boise institution that draws thousands to the central Grove plaza on warm Wednesday evenings every summer.

“This really is a great collection of BRA materials from an important time,” Virta said. “We’re delighted to have it in the library.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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