IMHO the North End Neighborhood Association should be maintained in its historic role rather than being woefully reimagined to serve the few, special interests and those who are reluctant or out rightly refuse to embrace our traditions and culture of selflessness and giving.
Update (02/18/2021) A new website for the group contesting the October NENA board election and ensuing issues has been launched at www.northendalliance.org. The chronology of events before and after the election are there for all to judge.
Update (02/05/2021) The Tuesday, January 26th board meeting. ZOOM meeting was interrupted with concerns about the pending litigation, recall petition and general confusion about the path forward. You can also read former NENA board member John Lewellyn’s open letter to the “old Board” by clicking here.
While I’m pretty much tired of this whole ordeal, I think the point of the recall campaign is important. The idea that people driven by a singular issue with little or no experience volunteering, engaging or advocating in or for the North End think they can undo decades of community-wide effort IMHO is self-serving at best. That the campaign of “anonymous” flyers, letters and notes using character assassination and innuendo has been an abject failure isn’t a surprise to me. It was amateurish at best and unethical. Northenders saw through it immediately. As a result of these and other tactics, the recalled, so-called “new board members” have likely learned they don’t have the community support they expected, so now they’re going to chew on our neighborhood association, our traditions and culture by filing lawsuits. The recall effort has a Facebook Group setup here.
For even more details about the election and the activities leading up to it, check out Stephanie’s article in the North End News Fall 2020 Edition by clicking here. And from a journalist’s perspective, check out the November 27, 2020 article in the Idaho Press by clicking here.
Public Relations Pros vs. The North End
After the mess of an election, someone with ties to what is now referred to as the “insurgents” actually had the balls, nerve and deep pockets to engage a high-end public relations firm to specifically ramp up participation in the November meeting. The issue was the communication was contained clear inaccuracies and more innuendo directed at the former and remaining board members. Read this email sent to North Junior High teachers which was forwarded out of concern for what was being said to veteran NEA members – click here.
Kate Fite, Sheri Edmond and many, many other new and longtime Northenders alike agree, there are far more questions than answers about the motives and tactics of the “new board members” who are all being recalled. Here’s Katie’s narrative which contains many of our shared concerns and questions.
Its a sad testimony to the neighborhood commitment of four of the newly certified NENA Board members that they filed a lawsuit on the Friday before the Sunday Jan. 10 meeting where NENA members concerns about the election were to be heard. The timing of the filing of that lawsuit seems aimed to: 1) Pressure, pressure, pressure the old NENA Board to certify the election. 2) Get the lawsuit filed in the nick of time to try to latch on to Attorneys fees. If they would have waited until after the certification which took place on Sunday Jan. 10 after the members meetings, the whole basis for filing a lawsuit would have vaporized. So now that the election has been certified, a major question is WHY is there still a lawsuit? Is it to make long-serving NENA volunteers lives stressful and exact some twisted revenge? Is it too keep NENA tied up in knots so NENA is not effectively engaging in neighborhood issues? (From “The Northend” Fb group)
To me it really revolves around our neighborhood legacy of building – from the Foothill’s Initiative in 2002 led by Lauren McLean to the care and maintenance of trails and opening new areas up like Hillside to Hollow, to supporting nonprofits like our own TRICA and maintaining the medians on 15th Street or the many volunteers who put up the flags on Harrison Boulevard for holidays. NENA’s FINE Grants have made projects like the SNOW Block bloom and provide funding for communal trash receptacles for Hyde Park and everything in between.
From the beginning of this controversy there are two issues that rise to the top. One is this group’s opposition to the approval of a Conditional Use Permit or CUP for TRICA to allow the temporary use of the historic Immanuel M.E. Church as a venue for church services from time time and secondly, their opposition to virtually any development, including limited low-income apartment, on Block 75 owned by and across the street from the Cathedral of the Rockies.
They apparently don’t want a church to exercise charity and create low-income housing at Block 75, nor do they want a 100+ year old historic church building used occasionally as a church, even on a temporary basis. The irony is tragic since they’ve exhausted their options with the city as far as TRICA goes and will likely embolden the Cathedral of the Rockies to move forward with a plan that is well within their property rights but without the desired cooperative effort that was already underway with NENA and supporters of the community garden aka Downtown Teaching Farm. (Here’s a link to a review of the Block 75 dialogue with press reports between 2002 and 2018) It is also very likely they are jeopardizing NENA’s certified neighborhood association status with the City of Boise.
And, despite rumors to the contrary, the Hyde Park Street Fair is not NENA’s to do away with or hand off to a commercial interest. That was never the deal when the Hyde Park Merchants Association allowed NENA to be the beneficiary of the Hyde Park Street Fair in 1981 and to begin managing the event a few years later prior to its move to Camels Back Park. The street fair is more than a fundraiser. As an example, In 2002 after 9/11, the street fair is where our neighborhood came to remember and heal, in 2021 it will fill much the same purpose as OUR first gathering post-COVID with any luck at all. The HPSF will remain a LOCAL event for LOCAL artists, musicians, nonprofits and OUR neighborhood.
North End Plan
Also in 1980 and 1981, North End citizens built upon a vision for the future and created the North End Plan. NOTHING the prior board has done is inconsistent with the plan. Here it is again in case you would like to see the roadmap we’ve been using for the past 40 years. John Bertram’s efforts were visionary. Thanks John, Dennis Fitzgerald and the committee of NENA board and planning members for their efforts that live on today and directly benefited my personal efforts in Hyde Park, through the Hyde Park Merchants Association I founded in 1979, and beyond.
It has taken everyone’s cooperation and effort to build the North End from a run down, virtually forgotten neighborhood into one of “Great Places in America” according to the American Planning Association. Check out the article and history here. Most folks who have moved here in the past 25 years probably don’t have any idea North Junior High School was infamous for gang violence and led the country in juvenile delinquency in the 50’s and 60’s. They’re unaware of the prominence of the KKK and homophobic bigotry in what most people think is the most accepting neighborhood in Boise if not the state. Everything that goes along with the forward looking progress we’ve made as a neighborhood was achieved together and with sacrifices.
The North End Neighborhood Association has been around since 1976. Before some of the “new board members” were born. The statement isn’t intended to be condescending, but it is intended to help connect the historic nature of our neighborhood to the history of the long history of the association and the people who have contributed to it.
NENA has been embroiled in controversy before, has been dissolved and reinstated several times and even gone dormant for short periods of time. NENA opposed redeveloping Hyde Park but came around a few years later. NENA has not always included Harrison Boulevard. The boulevard had its own neighborhood association for a period to time because a few residents didn’t want the rest of us to hold them accountable. The Near North End Neighborhood was also its own entity for a period of time after the neighborhood banned together in 2002 (see archived discussion) to push back on a mega apartment complex on Block 75. And we’ve always had the Hyde Park Street Fair.
Should we risk everything to satisfy the apparent, obvious self-interests of a few relatively new and evidently unhappy neighbors? Nope.