About $160,000 donated for land next to Idaho Shakespeare Festival

sberg@idahostatesman.comJuly 10, 2014 

— The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands will find a way to finalize the purchase of 12 acres next to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival's amphitheater in Boise's East End, even if it can't come up with all the money to buy the land by the end of the year, executive director Jan Johns said Thursday.

If that happens, Johns said, the foundation would "go back to the drawing board" with the landowners.

"We're not stepping off it, no matter what," she said. "We have no intentions whatsoever of giving this away."

The foundation reached an agreement in March to buy the 12 acres, which also borders its Barber Pool Conservation Area, from David and Ann Triplett and Jerry Rees. The property was the source of a yearlong battle between the Shakespeare Festival, which holds performances in an outdoor amphitheater to the east, and Jim Conger, a developer who wanted to buy the land and build dozens of homes and a few storage buildings on it. Shakespeare Festival supporters fought Conger, worried that noise from his development would detract from those performances, and that people living in the homes would someday complain about noise from the amphitheater and seek to restrict activities in it.

The total price tag was $1 million for the land and compensation of Conger for the time and money he put into planning the development. The Foundation for Parks and Lands came to the table with a $500,000 down payment, Johns said. The rest of the money is trickling in through donations.

Once the purchase is final, the foundation will begin the process of cleaning up two inactive sewage lagoons on the property. Johns said the foundation is waiting for results of an Idaho Department of Environmental Quality study on the lagoons to determine what has to be done with them. It's possible that filling them in is adequate, she said. That process would cost a lot less money and time than removing layers of soil and muck that collected in them when they were active.

Johns said people and companies have pledged $300,000 in donations of time and equipment use for remediation and development of the property once it's in the foundation's hands.

Options for the property's end use are still wide open, Johns said. She said the foundation wants it to be open to the public.

Click here to donate money for the purchase of the property.

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