Canyon County

A family donated a park. In July, the city put it up for sale. Here’s what happened

Davis Park is a 7,500-square-foot city park on the southwest corner of Star Boulevard and Middleton Road in Middleton.
Davis Park is a 7,500-square-foot city park on the southwest corner of Star Boulevard and Middleton Road in Middleton. Google Street View

In July, Kaye Henderson heard the city of Middleton was planning to sell a small park — but not just any park. Her family had donated the park to the city in 1992 in memory of her father, Harold Davis, a former Middleton City Council member and businessman.

Now living nearly 500 miles in Washington, Henderson could do little to stop the city.

While she’s been away from Middleton for years, Henderson’s old school friends stepped in to advocate on her behalf. On Wednesday, a small crowd of classmates gathered at the City Council meeting, imploring officials not to sell Davis Park. They were heard: The council voted not to sell the parcel.

“I’m thrilled,” Henderson said. “Even though we no longer live there, it’s still a special place to us.”

Henderson said she’s grateful to her friends and classmates for researching land deeds to prove that her family had donated the land, a 7,500-square-foot parcel southwest of the intersection of Star Boulevard and South Middleton Road.

Davis Park dedication
Dorothy Davis stands with her three children, Larry and Kenny Davis and Kaye Henderson, at the newly dedicated Davis Park in 1992. Provided by Kaye Henderson

In July, the city was approached by Custom Sheds of Idaho, which is based next door and eyed the park for expansion. The business asked to buy it. The City Council voted to put the parcel up for auction.

After Henderson learned what was happening, she phoned Middleton Mayor Darin Taylor. He told her that he hadn’t known that her family donated the land. He told her he would look into the title on the land.

But the city had already set the process in motion to sell the land, by advertising an auction. Officials decided to amend the conditions of the auction: The land would be sold to the highest bidder, subject to council approval.

Middleton held the auction Aug. 14. It received a single bid from Custom Sheds of Idaho for the minimum price of $22,000.

“The council wasn’t given enough information when it was first presented to them,” Henderson said. “We are very thankful to the Middleton council for reversing their decision.”

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.