Thursday, June 9, 2011

Some advice for the Kuna Urban Renewal Agency

Followers of this column know that I have been a proponent of an urban renewal agency in Kuna. I have made the argument that this is the best way for Kuna to revitalize its downtown, a key to Kuna’s prosperity moving forward.
There are some people, whom I consider to be very intelligent and whose opinions I highly respect, who disagree with me. They present compelling arguments and well-reasoned counterpoints for avoiding an urban renewal agency like the plague.
I respect their positions and understand their arguments. While I appreciate the opposition, I think we have come to a point of agreeing to disagree. For me, I strongly feel that without urban renewal, we will get nothing for our downtown, and that’s just not an acceptable path. Let me also add that urban renewal agencies are completely by the book, codified in Idaho Code.
Now, with all that said, I think many people are justified in being concerned about the current city leadership getting us into a boondoggle. As evidenced by last year’s slapdash, ill-conceived, and at times arrogant, push for a $5 million bond for a new city hall and swimming pool, local residents have cause to be suspicious of the city’s judgment.
So let me offer some measured advice on what I think are a few key points in establishing the Kuna Urban Renewal Agency.
• Appoint at least seven members to the agency board. I think nine would be fine, as well, but three would be way too few, and even five would not offer enough checks and balances to a body that is appointed and is not required to stand before voters at regular intervals.
• Make sure that the members of this board are diverse and not specifically from one segment of the population. Let’s have a couple of City Council members, business owners, ordinary residents, developers, landlords, etc.
We are to be heartened in this respect, though. I thought Mayor Dowdy’s appointment to the Planning and Zoning Commission of Corinna Stiles, an often-harsh critic of the mayor, showed great magnanimity and open-mindedness. Let’s keep that spirit going with the urban renewal agency.

I have three more points about residential development, eminent domain and involving the public. You can read them in this week's Kuna Melba News.

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