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Ada County to remove horse stables from Expo Idaho site this year

The stables' location near the Boise River and the idle Les Bois racetrack will be the new location for Lady Bird Park.

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — Horse stables that have gone unused for several years, since the end of horse racing at Les Bois Park, will soon be removed from the Expo Idaho grounds.

Ada County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon approved removing the stables using $550,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds. The work also will include environmental cleanup and measures to prevent future water contamination.

Commissioners said the process of removing the horse barns and stables will get underway later this year, under a resolution subject to their approval in the "coming days."

Horse racing has not taken place at Les Bois Park since 2016, following the passage of a law repealing the authorization for historical horse racing machines, gaming devices that critics said were too similar to slot machines. A ballot initiative to reinstate historic horse racing in 2018 failed in a statewide vote. A year after that vote, county commissioners said horse racing would no longer occur at Les Bois Park.

Today, the stables are no longer usable, and most are located on a floodway adjacent to the Boise River greenbelt. Because that is a floodway, no structures can be built on that section of the Expo Idaho grounds. The county plans to move Lady Bird Park to that area. Right now, the park is located at the corner of Chinden Boulevard and Glenwood Street.

Credit: Theresa Palmgren/KTVB

"We've disconnected all the power lines and everything there, so this project is almost shovel-ready to go," said Bob Batista, director of Expo Idaho. "I think this is a great investment for the community as well as the fairgrounds, because it will create a little bit of space that we need, and start us moving forward with getting ready to do the conversion of Lady Bird Park."

Batista said cleaning up the area where the stables now stand could take through the summer. He said during the Western Idaho Fair, there's only one horse barn "we truly need," and that the barn can be refurbished, but not replaced. The barn is in a flood plain, but not a floodway. The potential for refurbishing that barn is being assessed, Batista said.

Ada County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon discussed several ARPA-related proposals. Audio of the meeting is available here.

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