Boise City Council members said Tuesday night they had reservations about the design the Boise School District submitted for a rebuilt Whittier Elementary School, but they couldn’t find fault with an April decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the design.
A group of organizations that included the North End and Veterans Park neighborhood associations, as well as Preservation Idaho, appealed the Planning and Zoning approval. They made it clear Tuesday that they weren’t opposed to a new Whittier, which is one of Boise’s oldest and most crowded schools.
But the appellants asked the City Council to send the district back to the design phase and come back with a layout that reflects more urban planning principles, such as putting buildings close to street frontage and leaving lots of unbroken open space.
Councilwoman Lauren McLean seemed share some of those aspirations. She said the district had missed an opportunity for a better layout and she hoped the district will seize that opportunity the next time it builds a school.
In the end, though, McLean said there was no reason to believe the Planning and Zoning Commission erred in its approval of the project. She voted with the rest of the council in unanimously denying the appeal and approving the district’s design.
Council President Elaine Clegg recused herself from Tuesday’s hearing after disclosing the fact that she had held a number of conversations about the Whittier project with constituents, colleagues and others prior to the hearing.