No, Boise City Hall isnt being run by a bunch of recalcitrant, yardwork-averse teenagers. When City Hall blows off chores like mowing and weeding, its all in the name of science.
City leaders have made the conscious and goofy decision to quietly neglect a handful of parks this summer, just to see whether people notice and care.
Asked and answered. More than 110 people noticed this stealth experiment, and they care. Theyre angry, and who can blame them? They want their parks maintained.
Whod have thunk it?
Boiseans do not want their City of Trees to become the City of Weeds.
Boiseans value their parks. In City Halls most recent citizen survey, conducted in November 2010, 77 percent of respondents said they visited a city park at least once a month, while 34 percent visited at least weekly. But when Boiseans are asked to rank their funding priorities, parks and open space lag behind public safety, attracting and retaining businesses, environmental protection, planning for growth and public transportation.
The results may be mixed, but at least the yardstick is systematic a scientific, $35,000 survey of Boiseans. Theres nothing scientific about the sneaky maintenance experiment for parks. Consequently, the results are utterly predictable: Neglected parks dont look as good, and the Boiseans who took the initiative to call City Hall arent happy.
Understandably, city leaders are exploring cost-cutting options, since they anticipate revenues will be tight in the years to come. Before writing a two-year budget that would go into effect on Oct. 1, 2013, they want to gauge the on-the-ground impacts of reducing park maintenance, a move that could save $340,000 a year. Jade Riley, chief of staff to Mayor Dave Bieter, said the city could ask a maintenance question in its next citizen survey, in the works for the fall.
Well, that would make sense. But the citys plan is to continue the maintenance experiment, collecting more public comment in the fall.
That makes for a long, weedy summer. And this experiment isnt even a secret anymore. Call us spoilers, but Thursdays front-page article helped blow the citys cover.
The news is out, City Hall. Of course, this never should have been a secret in the first place.