IDAHO CITY -- After a decade of work, owners of a once-popular hot springs pool in Idaho City say they're on track to open this coming summer. Local business owners hope the reopening will give a boost to the local economy, which has faced recent hardships.
Current community status: Bankruptcy, property tax hikes, few jobs
This year, Boise County declared bankruptcy. In November, a federal judge ordered the county to raise property taxes to pay for a multi-million dollar settlement from a Fair Housing Act case the county lost.
Local business owners, already cash strapped in many cases, are now worried about the court-mandated tax hikes. In general, some business owners just say the town's been too quiet and local income is tough to come by.
Pretty rough. Real rough, HD's Hide Out owner Harley Hillyard said of the economic climate in Idaho City. There's not much going on. Everybody's commuting for jobs and hoping and praying for to feed themselves. There's not much going on.
Now, some community members hope reopening the historic attraction might help the struggling local economy.
Iconic hot springs resort to open for Idaho City's 150th anniversary
It's taken a while to get this plan put together, but our opening day is going to be this summer, which is usually our biggest season, so we'll open with a bang, The Springs General Manager Wyatt Sharpley said.
For decades, the hot springs pool in Idaho City, formerly called The Warm Springs Resort, brought people into the town. Ten years ago, it closed. The Springs owner then bought the resort and for a decade has been planning and renovating.
The hot springs being closed is like Detroit having no General Motors. It's been huge, huge piece of Idaho City for a long time, so it's really time to get it up and running, Sharpley said.
'Get it up, get it running'
Originally, the owner had a $7 million dollar plan for The Springs, but after shopping the plan around, realized the economic climate called for a scaled back plan that can be added on to.
The focus has been really just to get it up and running with the core basics. That's really where we're focused at this moment with a real simple plan. Get it up, get it running, then we'll start adding things as we go on, Sharpley said.
The summer opening will include a hot springs Olympic-size pool with a 20 foot heated deck, an even warmer hot tub, a kiddie pool, cold soak and rock water fountain. There will also be a building with changing rooms, hot springs showers, lockers, and a snack bar.
Eventually, Sharpley says there are plans to include some overnight stay options like luxury camping, a tree fort, teepee, and Airstream trailers. They also plan to add summer concerts and seasonal festivals.
Business owner: 'We don't have much, so it can't hurt us'
Sharpley says city reports show thousands of people a year would come to Idaho City to use the hot springs pool, and he hopes that will again be the case for everyone in town.
When it did close, and we purchased it after it was closed and we heard about how it affected local businesses. People closed for the winter because it was too slow, laid off people, limited hours, so it's going to make a huge impact, Sharpley said.
Hillyard confirms the hot springs pool was a very popular attraction, and it was obvious some people ended up being customers at other businesses in town.
Growing up as a kid people would show up here soaking wet all the time for groceries and stuff like that. They'd go have the pool and check out town. Hillyard said.
Hillyard hopes even though The Springs plans to have a lot of their own amenities that people will explore the rest of Idaho City.
Who knows what's going to happen? Anything in town is going to give us a better option than what we have. There's nothing to come see, nothing to come do. We don't have much, so it can't hurt us. Hillyard said.
More jobs to come
Sharpley says they've hired Idaho City subcontractors to do plumbing, electricity and other jobs to get a half million dollars in infrastructure work done. Also, they plan to hire 20 to 25 employees once the resort opens.
It should be a nice big impact for a county and a community that really needs it. It deserves it. Sharpley said.