Wednesday, March 30, 2011

No Park N Ride lot for Kuna

Ada County Highway District commissioners last week unanimously decided to not build a Park N Ride lot in Kuna for the time being.
Commissioners voted against seeking a federal grant to build the parking lot, given the city of Kuna’s concerns about ACHD staff’s preferred site on Deer Flat Road near Meridian Road.
As I reported in last week’s Editor’s Notebook, the city and ACHD staff were at odds over where to put the parking lot. ACHD staff favored a site on Deer Flat Road near Meridian Road, while the city of Kuna staff preferred a site along Ten Mile Road.
The two sides discussed the issue at a March 15 City Council workshop attended by ACHD staff members.
ACHD staff argued that the Deer Flat site makes the most sense because it lies in the direction of travel for many commuters, namely, up state Highway 69 to Boise. It is also near a proposed future bus route. Secondly, the money that would be used to build the parking lot would come from the Federal Transit Administration, which is looking for traffic congestion relief projects. The current traffic at Deer Flat and Linder is a “poster child” for traffic congestion relief, according to ACHD staff.
But the city raised a number of — legitimate — issues with the Deer Flat site, perhaps chief among them was that the site already had preliminary plat approval and a development agreement and that changing things around to accommodate a Park N Ride lot would create a land use approval process that could take as long as a year. In addition, Ten Mile and Lake Hazel would not require any land purchase because the city already owned the land. Plus, once the Ten Mile interchange opens, Ten Mile Road will become a major thoroughfare and will become the direction of travel for many residents.
At the March 15 City Council meeting, city officials several times criticized ACHD for not including the city in the planning process from the beginning.
But at the ACHD commission meeting on March 23, it was revealed that city planning director Steve Hasson had been involved right from the beginning at the kickoff planning meeting on Oct. 12, 2010. I find it unfortunate that City Council members were misled to believe that ACHD hadn’t involved the city from the beginning. And I find it unfortunate that that message was conveyed in this column last week. I wish someone — ACHD officials or Hasson — had set the record straight at the council meeting that the city of Kuna had been involved in Park N Ride lot planning. Why no one did, I don’t know.
Hasson told ACHD commission members that it was an intentional decision to leave the Kuna City Council members out of the early discussion in order to avoid jeopardizing future land use decisions that council members might make.
ACHD commissioner Dave Case, a former Kuna Planning & Zoning Commission member, wanted to make it clear for the record that it was an administrative decision on the part of Hasson and Kuna Mayor Scott Dowdy to not involve the City Council and in no way was a decision by ACHD to keep the process a secret.