Today, the URA was able to sneak a major change to the years of planning and hundreds of hours of community input into the to-be-built Downtown Commons. In another one of their efforts to pick and choose winners and losers downtown (see their purchase of a $300,000 patio exclusively for the use of the Historic Ballroom), they approved vacating ownership of 28 feet and giving a public right of way off The Commons (a public gathering space) so a business can add a patio door, to serve as a fire exit. The so-called fire door (exit) is actually a patio door, per their own renderings. Why wouldn’t the fire door be an actual fire-rated door with the alarm arm? The owners of the building insist it is not to have a patio, but give it a year and they will be asking the URA/City Council to approve giving them space for a patio on The Commons.
As a member of the general public, if I want to hold a festival in The Commons and reserve the area and have vendor tables and tents set up there, do I have to leave the space open in front of their door? Will patrons be able to exit and come behind the set of tables and tents? When the URA asked for citizen input to “have a voice in designing their downtown” this took months and months of planning. What was today’s rush of 24 hours’ notice to slide this change through? Was this to avoid public input? It appears the Twin Falls URA has begun to selectively decide whom they help. In this case, the decision benefits one property owner exclusively, and takes away public space.