Tim Woodward’s new columns are alternating with Woodward Classics during the pandemic. This one originally was published in The Idaho Statesman in the late 1990s. We’ll leave it to readers to decide how relevant it is today.
Most people move to Boise because they’re looking for a better place to live. Don Taylor is thinking of leaving for the same reason.
“I’m tired of our officials telling us what a wonderful place they’re making of Boise,” he said. “It already was wonderful.”
A Boise native and fourth-generation Idahoan, Taylor misses the Boise of before the boom. He knows his views on growth aren’t popular. In fact, he considered canceling the interview he requested with me to speaking for the overrun-native faction. He didn’t want people thinking he was an anti-growth zealot.
“I try to be positive, and there are some new things about Boise I like,” he said “I’ve gone to some hockey games and enjoyed them. I like having more concerts. But I’m not sure that what we’ve gotten is worth what we’ve lost.
“ … It’s hard for newcomers to understand. We had Boise at its best. They may think it’s great compared with where they came from, but what about those of us who have lived our whole lives here? Is our opinion any less valid?”
Taylor, 47, grew up in a Boise that is now a memory. Its population was 35,000. Downtown had two “towers,” the Statehouse and the Hoff Building. The North End was riddled with dirt-cheap building lots. Anything west of Orchard Street, once aptly named, was considered rural.
“I grew up on a 40-acre farm off of Maple Grove,” he said. “My father bought it to get us out in the country. The farm is part of the Interstate now. The house was moved and converted to a day care-center.”
The Boise of his youth was geographically isolated, slow to change. Growth was almost imperceptible until the 1980s, the beginning of a 50,000-person population explosion.
“Until then, we had normal growth cycles. What’s happened since isn’t normal. It’s crazy.
“I miss the sense of community. It wasn’t really a small town, but you always ran into people you knew. People weren’t in such a hurry, and it was so easy to get around. We didn’t know what traffic was.
“Now, whether you’re going to church or out to dinner or whatever, you have to wait in long lines. My wife and I used to ride bikes with our kids on Maple Grove. And that was just a few years ago. Now we wouldn’t even think of doing it.”
Taylor isn’t anti-newcomer. His complaint is with “our officials who welcome any big development with open arms. … The people who settled this area called it the Treasure Valley because it was a treasure. But we’re paving over it as fast as we can.”
Like his parents, Taylor thought he’d spend his entire life here. Now, he and his wife are looking for “a place with a sense of community, a phone book less than half an inch thick, no traffic-watch planes and no mall.”
In a few years, when their children are grown, he says they’ll leave Boise.
“My biggest feeling about Boise now is sadness,” he said. A lot of the newcomers are very gracious. They say wonderful things about what a great place this is.
“They should have seen it 15 years ago.”
It’s been roughly 30 years since this column first appeared. If he’s still living – he’d be in his 70s now – I’d love to find Don Taylor and interview him again.
Did he in fact move to a smaller town? If so, how have things worked out for him there? Does he ever return to Boise, and if so what’s his take on it today? I tried searching for him online, but as you can imagine there are lots of Don Taylors out there. If anyone who reads this knows his current whereabouts, please email me at the address below: