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Rediscovering Expo Idaho

Expo Idaho Committee Logo

About the project

As the Ada County Board of Commissioners works to establish the future uses for the EXPO Idaho property in Garden City, it is critically important to do so in a clear, open, and transparent manner.

The EXPO Idaho Project will consist of 3 phases.

In preparation for Phase 1, the Ada County EXPO Project Team gathered important information about the existing infrastructure and operations.  Ada County hired consulting firm Agnew Beck to facilitate the committee discussions.  A resolution signed by the commissioners allowed the formation of the committee and adoption of specific bylaws.  During this pre-planning stage, potential EXPO Idaho Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) candidates were proposed. A final selection of the committee members took place in February.

The purpose of the CAC was to collect information; review plans, ideas, and public comment; and establish the framework for Phase 2. Throughout Phase 1, the CAC engaged the public as well as collected online input. The focus of Phase 2 will be public involvement, and the CAC will help ensure that the public can be both engaged and informed. In Phase 3, the recommendations from the CAC and public will be presented to the board.

For comments/concerns, or to subscribe for updates on this project, please e-mail [email protected], or fill out the form below. Media inquiries can also be sent to this e-mail and Brianna or Elizabeth will be in contact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Ada County need to make plans for the future of EXPO Idaho? Is this because voters decided to do away with horseracing?

In November 2018 a vote by Idaho residents effectively did away with horseracing at Les Bois Park. This leaves EXPO Idaho property with significant sections that cannot be used for their original purpose. Additionally FEMA floodplain maps have changed since horseracing started at Expo Idaho. This directly affects how pieces of the property can be used as well. The BOCC believes the 240 acre property in the heart of the county deserves to be used in a manner that best reflects the desires of Ada County residents.

How can I get involved?

The initial potential candidates selected by the Board of County Commissioners includes a broad cross section of the community – from agriculture to arts, and has representatives selected by each of Ada County’s six cities. If you are interested in being involved, please feel free to attend meetings which are open to the public and get involved in the public input phase.

Are the Board of County Commissioners getting rid of the Fairgrounds?

We hear this question a lot. It is important for us to stress that while we are not entering this committee process with any preconceived notions about the result, we acknowledge the importance of the property, and the Western Idaho Fair, to countless Ada County residents. We encourage all citizens to share with us your ideas regarding how the property could be used. Please comment using the form on this website.

What is the timeline for the process, decision, and implementation? Will there be a published timeline for the Phases?

The committee meets during the winter/spring of 2020, with Phase 2, public input, beginning shortly thereafter. Once the committee members are appointed and begin meeting, we will get their feedback on what they think the appropriate timeline is for Phase 1. The Committee will also help us develop the format and timeline for Phase 2. Again, the CAC members are being selected on their ability to gather public input from their peer groups along the way.

Who will make the final decision about EXPO Idaho?

The Board of County Commissioners.

Will the 2020 Western Idaho Fair be impacted in any way?

Potentially; some maintenance and painting projects are being put on hold, but that will not impact the showing of animals at the 2020 Western Idaho Fair.

Is the Western Idaho Fair as it is today in jeopardy of not being held at EXPO Idaho in the future?

The Board of County Commissioners are aware of how special the Western Idaho Fair is. It is the largest state fair in Idaho. Because of this, the Commissioners want the Fair to be held in the best, most fitting location. As the committee meets, they will review the viability of every option, including potentially moving the Western Idaho Fair to a different location. If the Committee does recommend moving the Fair, the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the Committee’s recommendation.

Could the EXPO Idaho Citizens Advisory Committee end up recommending the County leave the Fairgrounds where they are?

Yes, leaving the Fairgrounds where they are is a possibility, and it could be expanded and revitalized. The property could also be utilized for other essential county facilities. The question is can we make the Western Idaho Fair a better experience in the current location or move it somewhere else?

How much power does the Expo Idaho Citizens Advisory Committee have?

The power that the Board of County Commissioners has delegated to the Expo Idaho Advisory Board pursuant to statute. See Idaho Code 22-201 thru 22-209. The Board of County Commissioners had enacted a county ordinance (2-6-3) that specifies the purpose of the Expo Idaho Advisory Board. The ordinance states that the Expo Idaho Advisory Board provides nonbinding advice on the operation and administration of the fair and use of the Expo Idaho facilities and grounds when the fair is not in session. The Expo Idaho Advisory Board is also responsible for communicating the concerns of users and residents to the director and board of county commissioners and when appropriate communicating county policy to residents of the county and users.

Why did Ada County bring in so many diverse groups to have a say in EXPO Idaho’s future?

It is important to the Board of County Commissioners to have an open and transparent process that allows for a wide, diverse range of interests to provide input. The goal was to have a committee that represented a broad cross section of all the various stakeholders in EXPO Idaho, including residents from each of Ada County’s six – cities. And to also allow for public participation.

About the property

You might hear some call Expo Idaho, “the fairgrounds.” That’s due to the fact that—since 1967—this is the very spot where the County has held the Western Idaho Fair. Beyond its half-century fair legacy, there’s more here than meets the eye. Throughout the rest of the year, over 750,000 people stop by for trade shows, company gatherings, auctions, sporting events, livestock round-ups, and everything else under the Idaho sun.

Included in this 240 acre space, you’ll also find the Boise Hawks, Riverside RV Park, Ladybird Park, the former Les Bois horse racing park, EMS, and a University of Idaho extension center. The property is located within unincorporated Ada County, who officially owns the property, and is surrounded by Garden City. The Boise River and Greenbelt line the property to the north, and with it, a large section of floodplain.

Expo Idaho Aerial Map

Meeting Info

All meetings are open to the public and will follow Idaho’s Open Meetings Act. While all of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee meetings will be open to the public, we will not be opening the floor to public comment during these Phase 1 meetings. The public is invited to submit comments on our website, and encouraged to participate in Phase 2 of the project, which will focus on public engagement. All agendas will be posted online, as well as minutes following the meeting. All collateral meeting materials will also be available online.

You can also find recordings of all of our virtual meetings, including interviews with key informants, on the county’s Expo Idaho Playlist on YouTube.

A survey is now open for the public to give feedback regarding the Expo Idaho Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s recommendations report. Go to our Phase 2 Portal for more information and to take the survey, which will be open through May 1, 2021.

January 28 – FINAL MEETING

5:30 pm, VIRTUAL

In this meeting, the advisory committee will present their final recommendations report to the Board of County Commissioners and the public.

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting and forward all comments to the committee after the meeting.

Meeting 6 Documents

Agenda

Final Recommendations Report

December 8 – Meeting 5

5:30 pm, VIRTUAL

In this meeting, the advisory committee will review and revise a draft recommendations report, which will, once finalized, go before the Board of County Commissioners and the public.

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting and forward all comments to the committee after the meeting.

October 28 – Meeting 4

5:30 pm, VIRTUAL

In this meeting, the subcommittees will present their scenarios to the group. The group will then use these scenarios as a starting point for their final recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting and forward all comments to the committee after the meeting.

September 21, 29, and 30 – Subcommittee Meetings

To begin the process of putting together recommendations, the committee split themselves into 3 “subcommittees”: agriculture and outdoor education; recreation, event, and/or sports complex; and mixed use city center. These focus areas were chosen based on the public comments we have received as well as the uses the committee members have expressed interest in exploring. Committee members then chose to participate in whichever focus group(s) interested them, and will meet this month to develop high level scenarios focusing on those 3 overall uses. Meeting dates and times are as follows:

Agriculture and Outdoor Education Focus: Wednesday, September 30, 4-6pm

Recreation, Event, and/or Sports Complex*: Monday, September 21, 11am-1pm

Mixed Use City Center: Tuesday, September 29, 11am-1pm

In October, the subcommittees will present their ideas to the larger group, and the committee will then use those scenarios as a starting point for their final recommendations.

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting, with the last 15 minutes of the meeting reserved for questions to ask the Advisory Committee.

August 26 – Meeting 3

5:30 pm, VIRTUAL

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting, with the last 15 minutes of the meeting reserved for questions to ask the Advisory Committee.

Meeting 3 Documents

Agenda

Public Comment

Step 6 – Key Informant Presentations

  • The committee identified the following as Key Informants that they would like to provide additional context regarding the property: the Greater Boise Auditorium District, the Boise Hawks, the Idaho Transportation Department, the Boise River Enhancement Network, Ada County Parks and Waterways, Garden City, and Ada County.
  • Prior to this meeting, the project team conducted informal interviews via WebEx to introduce themselves to the committee and give a brief overview of their ties to the Expo Idaho property. At the meeting, these Key Informants will answer any questions the committee may have.
  • Garden City Presentation
  • Floodplain Presentation

Step 7 – Site Tour and Assessment

  • Between the July and August meetings, committee members had the opportunity to do a self-guided, socially distant tour of the property and do an assessment of each section. We will use these assessments to begin brainstorming potential scenarios in Meeting #3.
  • Blank Site Assessment Sheet
  • Summary of Responses
  • Compiled Responses

Step 8 – Comparables and Aspirationals Research

Step 9 – Dreams and Desire Revisit

  • Prior to Meeting 2, we had the committee members fill out a form indicating their dreams and desires for this property. We will revisit the summary in Meeting 3 to help us brainstorm potential scenarios.

July 13 – Meeting 2

5:30 pm, VIRTUAL

This meeting will be conducted virtually via WebEx video conferencing. The meeting will be livestreamed to our YouTube account for members of the public who are interested in watching. We will also be livestreaming the meeting via Facebook Live. If you would like to ask questions, you can do so on the Facebook Live. Staff will answer any clarifying/procedural questions throughout the meeting, with the last 15 minutes of the meeting reserved for questions to ask the Advisory Committee.

March 18th – Meeting 2 – CANCELLED

5:30 pm, Western Town, 5610 N Glenwood St

In this meeting, committee members will begin brainstorming ideas to put into a recommendation to go in front of the public and the Board.

Meeting 2 Documents

Agenda

February 26th – Meeting 1

5:30 pm, Western Town, 5610 N Glenwood St

In this meeting, appointed candidates will meet for the first time to discuss recommendations for the future of Expo Idaho. They will have a committee orientation, take a virtual tour of Expo Idaho and the events that take place there, talk about options and opportunities, and have a chance to engage with members of the public who attend.

Meeting 1 Documents

Agenda

Committee member bio sheet

Dreams and Desires (This form will be filled out by committee members and returned prior to the March 18th meeting. If you are a member of the public, feel free to submit your thoughts on the questions asked on this form to our project e-mail listed below.)

Additional Committee Member Binder Documents

Minutes

January 29th – Meet and Greet

5:30 pm, Western Town, 5610 N Glenwood St

In this meeting, proposed candidates have been invited to come learn more about the purpose of the project and to ensure we have appropriate representation on the committee. Following this meeting, the Board of County Commissioners will officially vote to appoint selected members to the committee. The committee will not be officially formed until they are appointed by the Board of County Commissioners via vote.

About the Committee

The Board of Ada County Commissioners is considering candidates that have a track record of community involvement and that are representative of a larger group such as: environment, business, land use, arts and culture, agriculture, parks and recreation, housing and finance, etc., as well as asking each city to nominate a representative. Committee members were appointed at the February 11th and February 18th Open Business Meetings.

Appointee List

Committee Member Bio Sheet

About the Project Team

The EXPO Idaho Project is led by Ada County Development Service Director Richard Beck. Additional team members include Development Services Project Manager Kelly Woodworth, Development Services Outreach and Education Coordinator Brianna Bustos, and Ada County Communications Manager Elizabeth Duncan.

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