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Expo Idaho advisory committee members 'get the wheels turning' about possibilities for the site

More discussion and a formal public engagement phase will come over the next few months.

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Build an indoor ice rink ... create a sanctuary for native plants, birds and other wildlife... expand Hawks Memorial Stadium ... or continue as home of the Western Idaho Fair.

Those were just a few of the ideas people wrote on a board Wednesday evening under the question: What future uses do you envision at Expo Idaho?

That idea board was part of orientation night for recently appointed members of Ada County's new Expo Idaho Citizen's Advisory Committee.

"Just getting those wheels turning about the possibilities," said Brianna Bustos, outreach and education coordinator for Ada County Development Services. "Development Services has been going through and trying to really put together some robust information about what's going on at the site, the different events that happen here."

Credit: Ada County
Aerial-view map of Expo Idaho site.

The formal public engagement phase won't begin until late spring or summer, but Wednesday's committee meeting was open to anyone -- as are all future committee meetings.

"The commissioners really are sincere about wanting public input on this," Bustos said. "We really want the public to be engaged, so please go to the (Expo Idaho) website, please email us, please give us your comments and your feedback."

Credit: Logan Schenk/KTVB
Expo Idaho Citizen's Advisory Committee meets February 26, 2020, in Garden City, Idaho.

Committee members and the communities and perspectives they represent are:

  • Engineering/floodplain: L. Sheldon Barker
  • Development: Clay Carley
  • Agriculture/4-H: Allen Taggart
  • Idaho Conservation League: Marie Kellner
  • Boise State University: Matthew Wilde
  • Arts and culture: Matthew Wordell
  • Garden City: Andrea Fogleman
  • City of Boise: Mark Lavin
  • City of Meridian: Brad Hoaglun
  • City of Kuna: Kelsey Holder
  • City of Star: Jennifer Salmonsen
  • City of Eagle: Nichoel Baird Spencer
  • Youth: Saydee Henning
  • Outdoor recreation: Ian Malepeai
  • Boise Metro Chamber: Bill Connors
  • Financial: Kent Rock
  • Western Idaho Fair: Ed Lodge

Candidates for the committee attended a meet-and-greet in January to start discussing ideas and learn more about the effort to chart a course for Expo Idaho's future.

A large part of the site, Les Bois Park, has gone largely unused for four years, ever since horse racing operations ended.

The 240-acre property is considered some of the most valuable real estate in Ada County.

It is currently funded by the events held there, not the taxpayers, Bustos said.

Committee members, appointed earlier in February, will meet again on March 18 to synthesize ideas, including those discussed on Wednesday. Later in the spring, they will take a site tour, then further develop what they deem to be the most promising ideas for the formal public engagement phase.

The final decision about the future of the Expo Idaho site will be in the hands of Ada County commissioners.

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