The Falling Star

The Partnership

Brent Coles was the Mayor of Boise from 1993-2003.  He resigned in 2003 after charges were filed against him using the state's anticorruption laws.[1] 

In 1995, Boise Mayor Brent Coles invited the Urban Land Institute to evaluate the city's growth planning and management practices.[2]  The Institute made the following recommendations to local officials including in the surrounding area:

Work together in a regional, coordinated effort.
• Put into action the many plans now sitting on a shelf or yet to be finished.
Form a regional metropolitan government.

In 1996, the suggestion was made to Mayor Coles, that he organize a forum of local officials to discuss the issues of growth and planning:

"The idea of the June meeting came from Christine Saum , Executive Director of the Mayors’
Institute on Cities and Dena Belzer, an economist from Berkeley, California who works with
communities on growth and development issues. They had gotten to know Boise Mayor Brent
Coles at an earlier Mayors’ Institute and suggested a regional forum for Valley leaders to discuss their concerns. Coles was open to the idea. The initial question was, how to get other regional leaders interested? Boise (population 180,000) is the largest city in the Valley and state, and as the “800 pound gorilla” it couldn’t be seen as trying to force regional solutions on its neighbors."

Coles set aside money from his budget to develop a forum on regionalism and directed his staff to work with Saum and Belzer....  Given that, Coles suggested a conference to discuss the issues in more depth, and others agreed. Saum and Belzer helped by inviting several national experts on economics, city planning, open space, growth and transportation issues to speak at the conference. The primary players were the elected officials of nine local jurisdictions: the cities of Boise, Caldwell, Eagle, Kuna, Garden City, Meridian, Nampa, Parma and Ada and Canyon Counties. [3]

The "Treasure Valley Institute" forum was held in 1997.  A non-binding agreement called the Treasure Valley Partnership Agreement 2000[4] was signed by all officials present committing to cooperation and collaboration with the following goals: 

Treasure Valley Partnership Goals

1. Create coherent regional growth and development patterns (such as coordinated
investment in waste water treatment plans, cooperation on managing storm water runoff
and finding ways to conserve ground water reserves)
2. Link land use and transportation (increasing transit use, creation of bike and pedestrian
trails, and of greenbelt areas)
3. Reinforce community identities and their sense of place (involves development of a vision
for the region’s future that honors each locality’s unique characteristics), and
4. Protect and enhance open space and recreational opportunities (in part by encouraging
acquisition and preservation of interconnected open space).

[Note:  A fifth goal, to educate and build support for the partnership within the Valley, was added in 2000.] 

During this period when the group was still informal, there were two big issues that were addressed: land issues and police powers. 

“Before the Partnership, police in one city or county couldn’t arrest suspects across jurisdictional lines. They had to go through a complicated process to follow, arrest and prosecute criminals. And ambulances couldn’t assist people in cases where they were over the county lines, even if the “appropriate” ambulance was much further from an accident! We got an early win during the first year when the Partnership members began to sign memos of understandings (MOUs) allowing their respective ambulances and police officers to cross jurisdictional lines.”

"By the end of 1998, the members agreed that the Partnership was going to be around for awhile and they needed to be more organized. The members voted to establish the Partnership as it own entity and hire staff – thereby removing the dependence on the staff at Boise City. They formed a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) corporation and spent a great deal of time in ‘98 and early ‘99 having monthly educational meetings where all the members became familiar with issues of regional impact such as sewer and water issues, planning issues, etc

Treasure Valley Partnership - Articles of Incorporation  (P.12)

In 1998, the Ada Planning Association (APA) applied for, and got a grant from the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  A history of this grant was posted on the Doherty  & Associates website presumably because they were selected to be the Project Coordinator as indicated in the history prepared by Doherty.  The following are excerpts:  

1998 - Grant Instigation:

This federal grant was authorized under the Transportation and Equity Act for the Twenty First Century (TEA-21), with the grant known as the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program (TCSP). The grant and administration of the grant are under the auspices of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

"Idaho Smart Growth, an advocacy group for alternative planning, notified both the Ada
Planning Association (APA), the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Ada
County, and the City of Boise/Treasure Valley Partnership that there was an opportunity
for funding to work on growth and planning issues in the Treasure Valley. APA worked
with Idaho Smart Growth and the Treasure Valley Partnership to call a meeting inviting
many diverse groups to evaluate what type of coalition could be formed to apply for
grant monies. The group pulled together by APA decided to apply for the grant for a
study into ways to improve the land use, transportation and community planning in the
Treasure Valley area of Idaho."

The Treasure Valley comprises Ada and Canyon Counties, including six cities in Ada
County (Boise, Meridian, Garden City, Eagle, Kuna and Star) and nine cities in Canyon
County (Nampa, Caldwell, Middleton, Melba, Notus, Parma, Wilder, Homedale, and
Greenleaf) as well as the unincorporated and rural areas in both counties.

This federal grant was authorized under the Transportation and Equity Act for the
Twenty First Century (TEA-21), with the grant known as the Transportation and
Community and System Preservation Pilot Program (TCSP). The grant and
administration of the grant are under the auspices of the Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA).


The full grant was sent to FHWA on March 15, 1999, under the title of Treasure Valley Futures: Alternative Choices for the American West...  On May 3, 1999 APA received confirmation that Treasure Valley Futures had been selected to receive a grant in the amount of $510,000. The grant contract between FHWA and APA was signed on July 1, 1999.

[Note:  The Ada Planning Association (APA) name was changed to Community Planning Association of Southwestern Idaho (COMPASS) in 2003.  In 2002, Canyon County reached the population milestone required to create an Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).  When Canyon County joined the Ada County MPO, the name was changed.  Extra federal funds are available when a "Transportation Management Area" population reaches 200,000.  The combined populations of Ada County and Canyon County did that for them.] 

The TCSP grant RFP is still posted on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) website and they are still issuing grants for it.  The FHWA lists the follow summary for the TCSP grant:


01: Ada/Canyon Counties: "Treasure Valley Futures: New Choices for the American West" $510,000

Develop an education process which defines barriers to attaining these goals and identifies a range of alternative choices for policy implementation that can be incorporated directly into the existing land use and transportation policy framework. The project should result in an increase in the number of policy decisions being made by agencies and other groups supporting local and regional objectives. The project approach is designed to work within the Treasure Valley's fragmented political framework and deeply held beliefs concerning private property rights.


A copy of the APA-TVP grant proposal was found on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) website.  Because this grant proposal is key to understanding both what happened it Boise and in fact, has been replicated throughout the United States (and perhaps the world), a copy of the proposal was taken and highlighted to show the important parts. 

Highlighted copy of the grant proposal:  TCSP 1999 Grant Proposal

There was a website for the Treasure Valley Futures project but it has been relegated to the dustbin of history.  Fortunately however, most of it can still be retrieved from the Internet Archives

Treasure Valley Futures:  Alternate Choices for the American West


The project ran from July 1, 1999 through April 2001.  The project included the following benchmarks:

The grant is designed around six project benchmarks that detail the work to be done. Each benchmark will result in a project product created by grant members working with the public. Each benchmark will also include evaluation.
 The benchmarks are:
 1. Introduce Local Policy Makers to the TVF Project
 2. Establish a Regional "Trend" Baseline
 3. Conduct an Implementation Barriers Analysis
 4. Compile an "Alternative Choices Catalog"
 5. Develop Local Demonstration Project Prototypes
 6. Conduct a Regional Forum on "Next Steps for the Treasure Valley"

Essentially, these benchmarks were just the preliminaries to establish the soviets and the networks.  The demonstration prototype projects were prepared by students at Boise State University as learning exercises.