Land next to Idaho Shakespeare Festival amphitheater venue sold

An Idaho parks foundation will take ownership, resolving a conflict over a subdivision proposal.

sberg@idahostatesman.comMarch 6, 2014 

  • BARBER MILL ESTATES ANNOUNCEMENT

    The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands will talk about buying 12 acres just west of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s amphitheater in Boise’s East End.

    The event is at 2 p.m. Friday in The Grove Hotel, 245 S. Capitol Blvd., Boise.

  • WHAT PEOPLE SAID ON THE IDAHO STATESMAN’S FACEBOOK PAGE:

    Barbara McNeese: Great news!

    Drew Dunn: Seems to me that it’s the best solution to the problem.

    Don Rosebrock: This is good news. Putting houses in next to the theater could have been a disaster for ISF. All it takes is one discontented homeowner to file an expensive lawsuit. Like the people who buy houses next to the airport and then complain about the noise, they seem to win.

    Amber Rasco: This way it gets to stay just as it is. Relaxing, quiet and enjoyable.

For more than a year, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival has been fighting developer Jim Conger’s plan to build dozens of homes next to its amphitheater.

The festival’s opposition put its supporters in conflict with David and Ann Triplett, who are part-owners of the property and want to make money off it.

A solution emerged Wednesday that should make Shakespeare supporters and the Tripletts happy: The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands announced that it will buy the 12 acres just west of the amphitheater between Warm Springs Avenue and the Boise River. David Triplett confirmed the sale.

The news leaves plenty of unanswered questions, such as how much the foundation will pay, how it got the money, and what will happen to two inactive sewage lagoons on the Triplett property. Cleaning up the lagoons was part of Conger’s development plan.

Triplett, Shakespeare Festival Managing Director Mark Hofflund and Jan Johns, the foundation’s administrator, declined to give details about the transaction. The foundation is planning a news conference Friday to provide specifics.

Triplett said the price of the land includes money to compensate Conger for the time and money he spent planning the development, which he called Barber Mill Estates. Conger declined to comment for this story.

“(We) are very pleased with what has happened and it has been a great opportunity to work with Jim Conger (and his partners). They really are class acts,” Ann Triplett said. “We can’t say enough good about the way they have treated us and been concerned about our interests as well as their own.”

LONG, HARD PATH

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival opened the outdoor amphitheater in Boise’s East End in 1998. Almost immediately, its leaders began informal talks about buying the 12 acres west of the amphitheater. The rough idea, Shakespeare people said, was to take ownership of the land sometime around 2018.

But in late 2012, Conger offered to buy the Tripletts’ property.

Shakespeare supporters worried that Conger’s housing development would have two damaging effects. First, they said noise from the houses would make performances in the amphitheater less enjoyable. Second, they predicted that people living there would complain about noise from the amphitheater and seek to restrict performances there.

On Jan. 15, after a seven-hour public hearing, the Boise City Council annexed the 12 acres into city limits — as Conger had requested — but denied Conger’s development plan. The council ordered the parties to try mediation.

The next day, Shakespeare attorney Gary Allen said the festival’s supporters could come up with enough money to buy the Tripletts’ land. The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, which owns part of the Barber Pool Conservation Area just south of the Tripletts’ property, would be the most logical long-term owner if that sale happened, Allen said.

The State Parks Department headquarters fronts Warms Springs Avenue and is Shakespeare’s neighbor.

Though it seems likely, it’s unknown whether ISF supporters raised the money to buy the land. Efforts to contact Allen on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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