BOISE - The city of Boise is expanding agriculture opportunities for those wanting to get into the farming industry.
But in order to do so, the city is demolishing two houses in the Hillcrest Development Neighborhood, by the Boise Airport, to make room.
Some neighbors are questioning the city's intentions and are wondering if the demolition is tied to the controversial F-35s that may be coming to Gowen Field.
“As you look out here you see some fruit trees, there is some corn in the back, we have got potatoes and basil and tomatoes and some kale, over here onions,” says Sara Arkle with Boise Parks and Recreation Foothills Open Space Department.
This farm plot was a collaboration between Global Gardens, a non-profit, and Boise Parks and Recreation to teach new farmers the trade.
“These are usually new Americans that have come to the community and Global Gardens is giving them an opportunity to earn a living and learn a trade,” says Arkle.
In order to expand the plots and make room for parking two neighboring houses are being demolished, which are owned by the Boise Airport.
"The properties on Pond Street were purchased in 2003 and 2005, the owners actually contacted the airport and the city of Boise to purchase those homes from them," said Boise Airport spokesman Sean Briggs. "So the reason the airport purchased those properties was to turn it into a compatible land use, and so what we did was partner with the Department of Parks and Rec and they are able to take this land and turn it into an urban farm, which is a compatible land use within the airport influence area.”
Larraine Evans Clayton lives several houses down the street.
“I think a community garden is a wonderful thing, a wonderful edition to any neighborhood, I personally welcome it,” says Clayton.
But she worries this expansion is just the beginning to demolishing more homes in the neighborhood because of potential noise exposure from F-35s coming to Gowen Field.
“I think this perhaps is the first step in leveling homes in the area and I think the guise of a garden is wonderful, I think the garden is wonderful, but it’s possible they're using it as something to be acceptable by the community versus just coming in and leveling the homes because they are not livable do to the airport noise,” says Clayton.
Briggs says this is far from what is actually happening.
“I think it’s important to know that the Pond Street properties have absolutely nothing to do with the proposed F35 mission that Gowen Field is up for, that’s very important to know," said Briggs. "The other issue is the airport has never forced someone to buy their house, or the airport has never forced someone to sell their house, the airport has never condemned a home nor do we ever want to do that in the future, so that is simply not the case. Homes that are purchased by the airport or city of Boise those are voluntary purchases on both the airport's part and the homeowner's part.”
The homes are expected to be demolished by the end of summer, and expansion of the farm plot and parking spaces are slated to be done by next spring.
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