College of Western Idaho’s dream of expanding its Nampa campus and building a permanent Boise campus did not attract strong voter support Tuesday.
The proposal fell below the supermajority needed for passage in both Ada and Canyon counties with most of the Ada vote counted early Wednesday.
CWI sought a $180 million bond to expand its Nampa campus with a health science building and a student center for counseling and other academic needs. It also sought a permanent Ada County campus in Boise’s West End.
College officials said they needed the space to get out of leased buildings, which are costing the school about $2 million a year, and to make room for growth.
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The Boise campus is seen as a key element in the transformation of Boise’s West End, which also includes the just-opened Esther Simplot Park and the city’s whitewater park.
College of Western Idaho announced expansion plans in April 2015 with the purchase of 10 acres at the corner of Main Street and Whitewater Park Boulevard for the Boise campus. The land deal became immediately controversial when residents complained the school was paying more than what many thought it was worth. Eventually the college got an appraisal that showed it had paid about $100,000 less than the property’s appraised value.
CWI ran a more muted campaign for this bond than the campaign by community leaders in Ada and Canyon counties in 2007 to form the school. In 2007, the campaign was kicked off with strong, vocal support from area corporations praising the idea of a college that would train their workforce. This time around, the campaign focused quietly on getting people the school believed supported the expansion to vote.