BOISE -- The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is one of the cultural icons of Boise and the state, providing outdoor theater to the community for 37 years. Now, some say a planned development will push the theater out. But the developer says it's much ado about nothing.
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival has been in their location by Barber Park for about 16 years. Mark Hofflund, the managing director of the Shakespeare Festival, says the spot was supposed to be their permanent home. But some board members now say that a planned development just next door could eventually force them to move.
"It's something that in our world of outdoor theater that has a potential considerable impact," said Hofflund.
Just to the west is about 12 acres that holds two sewage lagoons no longer in use. Hofflund says the owners have been big friends to the festival and were instrumental in getting them into their current location. But now those landowners want to develop the plot into a 47-home subdivision.
"If it gets subdivided and 47 homes are built, that pretty much seals it for the future," said Hofflund.
Hofflund is worried that increased traffic and noise from the neighborhood will disrupt their performances, and that their new neighbors will get tired of their 120-some nights of shows which brings plenty of their own traffic and noise.
He believes those homeowners, and homeowners in any other new subdivisions, could eventually try to force them to move.
Hofflund says he's seen that happen to other theaters in other growing communities. "We're not opposed to development. We tend to benefit from residential activity, within a certain proximity. When it gets really really close, it's like, 'How smart is it to get in the cage with the lion?'"
Jim Conger is with the Conger Management Group, who is developing the land. "We have done studies and all of them have no merit of concern."
Conger says homeowners in another development, almost as close as this planned one, have never complained. He also says his company has done a pair of sound studies that show there will be no impact either way. Also, the Ada County Highway District has already approved the plan, saying that nearby streets are at a fraction of their capacity.
"We've known this might be a potential issue from the beginning, and we wanted to assure ourselves as a developer that it would not be an issue," said Conger.
He added that one of the main reasons people would want to move into these homes, is that the festival is nearby. So he wouldn't do something to force the festival to move. "They're moving there because of those cultural advantages."
Conger also says that they will allow a berm to stay on the developed property, which should also help with the noise.
The next big step for the plan is going before Boise City Planning and Zoning. That's coming up on August 12th at 6 p.m.