Public sounds off on future of Simplot Mansion

Public sounds off on future of Simplot Mansion

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 2, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 9:56 PM

Poll:
What do you think the state should do with the empty governor's mansion?

BOISE -- To the eye, it is as much a part of Boise's landscape as Table Rock and the State Capitol.

The Simplot mansion, with its 130-foot tall flag pole that holds a flag that can be seen for miles, was the subject of a public forum Tuesday afternoon. The Governor's Housing Committee asked for feedback from Idahoans on what to with the Simplot Mansion.

The Simplots donated the mansion in 2004 to be used as the Governor's home. But a law from 1987 says the governor doesn't have to live there. Governor Otter lives out in Star. In fact, this mansion has never been home to an Idaho governor.

Committee member Representative Phylis King says the state should let it go.

"The biggest reason [to sell it] is we're spending $177,000, that's the budget for this coming year. We're spending that kind of money to maintain a house that hardly anybody uses," said Representative King.

When the Simplots donated this house to be used at the governor's mansion, they had a few requirements. One of them was flying the 30x50 foot flag at all times.

The budget for flags is $5,100. The state set $80,000 for grounds maintenance, $40,000 on electricity, and $10,000 for security.

"I think that it's justified in some ways and yet there's a lot of reasons to say, 'hey that money could be used in different ways,'" said Senator and Committee Chairperson, Chuck Winder.

Most commenters were against keeping the Simplot Mansion.

"I was never quite comfortable with it as the home for the Governor," said Greg Johnson.

"I think it's inappropriate to continue funding this mansion on the hill," said Barbara Kemp.


However, like J.R. Simplot himself, the house has become symbolic of the success of Idaho.

"If we have any pride in the guy who really helped develop the state, I think we should keep it the way it is, and do whatever is necessary to keep it as the governor's mansion," said Michael Kostaneki.

The total budget for the Governor's Mansion for fiscal year 2013 is $177,000.

The Committee also needs to figure out what to do with a piece of property on Horizon Drive. The Governor's Housing Committee is planning to meet sometime in the next 30 days.

You can visit their website to give them feedback on what you think they should do with the mansion via email.
 

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