BOISE -- What should become of a piece of land in Boise's North End has been hotly debated for years.
The Cathedral of the Rockies is considering converting the current community garden into affordable housing. The land is between Hays and Fort streets and 11th and 12th streets. The community garden and teaching farm sits across the street from the Cathedral of the Rockies.
Some neighbors are uneasy about the change in this historic area, though. There was a community meeting at the church Wednesday night, where church leaders sought input from their congregation and the community. Nothing is set in stone and the church is mulling over a few ideas of what to do there, including the possibility of an affordable housing development.
Lead Pastor Duane Anders says they see a real need for affordable housing in the community, but other avenues they're looking at are transforming the plot into parking - which Anders says the church needs - or keeping it as is.
"We are a church, of course, so instead of just doing a parking lot - which is one of our big interests - we also want to do something that makes a difference in our community, that makes the world a little better. One of the greatest needs in the Boise Valley right now is affordable housing," Anders said. "The affordable housing idea is still pretty new for us, it's just one of the ideas on the block. One of the ideas is to actually do nothing and leave it as it is. Another idea is, well, just go ahead and do parking as we thought the first time. So there's a lot of things bubbling and we're still listening to community partners and friends and neighbors."
The church presented information to attendees based on the previous meeting in June, gathered input and feedback, and fielded questions from attendees written down on cards. They plan to send a follow up document with all the answers to attendees' questions.
If you have lived in the area for the last several years, you may recall the history with this lot; more than a decade ago the church considered developing it into housing at least twice. Historic homes were moved and demolished, sparking concern and backlash from preservationists and neighbors. Some of that sentiment and uneasiness was expressed in Wednesday's meeting.
Moving forward, neighbors say they hope to have their voices heard and help with the vision. They say they see myriad creative possibilities for this plot of land.
"We will not be silent on this. So we are hoping that... the church will engage the neighborhood association and neighbors as part of that visioning for what could go here," North End Neighborhood Association President Mark Baltes told KTVB. "We agree affordable housing is a necessary component as Boise grows. So that's kind of where we are; we're still in the information gathering side, no conversations back and forth as of yet. They haven't invited us to the table. We believe this project and the size of it and its magnitude has an impact much greater than the neighbors that surround it or just the church congregation."
At this point in the process, everything is still very fluid. Another community meeting is set for September. Pastor Anders says they won't have a timeline until they've gathered comprehensive information and heard from the community and congregation. They'll then make a decision on next steps and what exactly they're going to do at Lot 75.