Creating Community

How Neighborhood Development Energizes Neighborhoods

Boise is characterized by its many strong, healthy neighborhoods that are well defined by their unique geographies, histories, designs, and communities. Boise residents value the safety, quality, and character of where they live, as well as access to parks, schools, open space, and basic services. This is guided by five key principles within the City’s comprehensive plan, Blueprint Boise:

  • Ensure neighborhoods are served by a hierarchy of mixed-use activity centers, including schools;
  • Protect stable neighborhoods;
  • Encourage a variety of housing choices;
  • Emphasize the importance of high-quality urban design in the built environment; and
  • Protect the City’s historic resources.

Neighborhood Plans and Associations

The Neighborhood Planning program was formally initiated in 1992 and the City hired its first Neighborhood Planner the same year. In 1998, Mayor Coles and City Council passed resolution 14931, “A resolution reaffirming Boise City’s efforts to facilitate neighborhood planning and defining collaborative principles which guide the relationship between the city and registered neighborhood associations.” That resolution determined that the City and various registered Neighborhood Associations would work in partnership to improve livability by: 1) helping residents achieve their goals for their neighborhoods; 2) involving neighborhoods in determining the best ways to achieve established citywide goals; and 3) creating an environment which will encourage the building and strengthening of community within neighborhoods.

Energize Our Neighborhoods

In 2014, the Energize Our Neighborhoods program was started specifically to align resources in partnership with the community and directly affect change in improving livability within a specific neighborhood. While the Vista Neighborhood was the initial area of focus, in 2016 Energize began working with neighbors from the West Valley Neighborhood Association, engaging the community around placemaking efforts near the historic Ustick Townsite.

Man giving talk to group
Leon Letson, City Planner, explaining how Energize empowers neighborhoods around the idea of community.
Group of adults walking down sidewalk
Ambassadors exploring part of the historic Ustick neighborhood.
People playing lawn games
Ambassadors and city staff play cornhole, one of many games and items available in the Energize Block Party Trailer for community gatherings and block parties.

Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges exist within both the built and social environments for the Ustick area of the West Valley Neighborhood Association. Regarding the built environment, little remains of the Historic Ustick Townsite, and what does is not protected by any special overlay district. The reality of this situation complicates the neighborhood and City’s interests in preserving and utilizing these buildings and places to reestablish a sense of place.

Similarly, challenges associated with the social environment include successfully engaging a community of residents who have expressed feelings of being ignored by City leadership for several decades. The Energize Our Neighborhoods team, in response, has work closely with the neighborhood to ensure those who have engaged are accurately representing the broader neighborhood, which consists of several thousand individuals from a broad spectrum of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.

Ambassadors were given the opportunity to see the work done by our Energize team and how its mission has brought back a sense of community to neighborhoods, like the Historic Ustick Townsite, by connecting neighbors and working collaboratively to increase livability in their area.

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