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Boise main library project likely to be 'rescoped'

The ambitious, $85 million new main library project was championed by former Mayor Dave Bieter in his last year in office.
Credit: City of Boise
A rendering of the proposed Boise Main Library in 2018.

BOISE, Idaho — The future of a new main library for Boise remains uncertain.

On Tuesday, Boise City Council heard a budget presentation on major capital improvement projects for the city, which included information that the main library project would need to be “rescoped.” The city currently has allowed for $25 million to be spent on a new main library in fiscal year 2025, but Boise’s budget manager Eric Bilimoria said this is not set in stone.

“We do anticipate that staff would return for a more comprehensive discussion on the main library,” Bilimoria said.

The ambitious, $85 million new main library project was championed by former Mayor Dave Bieter in his last year in office, but faced significant opposition from residents who thought the project was too expensive and the choice of world famous architect Moshe Safdie was unnecessary. A ballot initiative that overwhelmingly passed in November requires the city to get voter approval for a library project over $25 million.

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Boise has not yet finalized its budget. More details are expected to be hammered out in the coming weeks, as well at the all-day budget workshop in mid-June. Bilimoria said there are plans for a conversation about the future of the main library project with Boise City Council and the Boise Library board of trustees before a final decision is made.

In the meantime, the city has set aside $3 million in its fiscal year 2021 budget to address ongoing repairs and maintenance at the aging main library on Capitol Boulevard that have been delayed due to the expected construction of a new building. An assessment of the building and its maintenance needs is ongoing and is expected to be completed soon.

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Neither Mayor Lauren McLean or city council members commented about the main library during the presentation.

Other highlights from the fiscal year 2021 capital improvement budget include:

Design for a fire station in Northwest Boise and a new Fire Station 5

  • Zoo repairs
  • HVAC repairs at the Boise Depot
  • $358,000 in security enhancements
  • Amenities at Memorial Park

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