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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Urban Renewal Chairman Eljay Waite Dishonest With URA Board, City Council and Citizens of Caldwell

The latest in a  series of capers by URA Board Chairman,  Eljay Waite involves the King's Building in Downtown Caldwell.  Mr. Waite was instructed by his URA board to seek demolition bids for the Kings Building in December of 2013. 

In a public "workshop" with  Caldwell City Council, Mayor Nancolas and interested members of the public in January 2014 Mr. Waite was asked by THE GUARDIAN if the URA board had authorized him to seek demolition bids.  Mr.Waite said yes but he was too busy to work on demolition bids due to an audit he was working on.  THE GUARDIAN  asked if he could get the demolition bids by April 1, 2014 and he said yes but was clearly irritated by GUARDIAN questioning about the bids.

URA Chairman Waite was less than honest with his answer to the Mayor, City Council and members
Eljay Waite
of the public at the "workshop" in January.  He was unilaterally agreeing to let the Caldwell Optimist Club Youth Boxing program use the King's building in defiance of his URA Board to get the demolition permits.  The issue of not getting the demolition permits was an issue of heated discussion between Mr. Waite and board member Scott Syme at the February 4, 2014 Caldwell East Urban Renewal board meeting.  Mr. Waite outright refused to get the demolition permits without the board rescinding the motion made in December of 2013.

Mr. Waite has given the Caldwell Optimists a "green light" to occupy the old King's building and it appears the term of occupancy is open ended.  There will be a "round table" meeting to discuss what code requirements will have to be addressed to get a certificate of occupancy for the Youth Boxing program. In a meeting held with the Optimists in mid-January a minimal list of issues were discussed and that they would not have to comply with all the code requirements anyone else would have to comply with given this is a change of use.  A change of use would normally require the building be brought up to ALL current code requirements.

A public records request was submitted for the meeting minutes and notes for the January meeting and the response was there were no minutes or notes from this meeting.  Another public records request was made to find out what the code would require for a change of occupancy like the Optimists are seeking to no avail.  Another request was made to know when the latest round table meeting would be held with the date, place and time of the meeting.  Phone calls to Planning and Zoning and Building Department along with email correspondence got no response.  One of THE GUARDIAN'S public records requests for the February 13th meeting place and time was forwarded to City Attorney Mark Hilty.

Meanwhile, Mr. Waite has scheduled the March 4th meeting of the URA board to hash out the issue of demolition permits, his dishonesty with answers to his board, the city council and the public regarding the demolition permits along with GURARDIAN emails on this matter.

The Optimists have been given a new metal building for their boxing program by R&M Steel and land across the street from the city swimming pool as a location for the building but they have not actively been able to come up with the cash to construct the building.  Use of the King's building on an open-ended no charge lease gives them no incentive to act on the previous mentioned gifts of the building and land for the building.


  1. Bob says...
    The King's building was purchased by the urban renewal agency to prevent any "undesirable use". It was purchased from the Salvation Army for $246K with a plan in hand to tear down the building and build a Plaza on the site. Mayor Garret Nancolas walked hand in hand with the group that put together the plan, costs of the plaza and a educated guess on how much it would cost to demolish the building. Eljay Waite and Mayor Nancolas came in late in the project efforts to state they "didn't know what the future was for this building" leaving the organizers of the Plaza hanging in the wind.

    We don't want anymore payday loan businesses in Caldwell but now this is considered a good move for downtown.

  2. It is my opinion Mr. Waite needs to be removed from the URA board. I have taken the time to talk with several people in Caldwell who feel he should retreat to his office as City Finance Director or perhaps go on a Mission for his Church.

    He vetoed the plaza project without so much as a call to those who put in time and money to develop drawings for the Plaza project. The temerity of Mr. Waite is amazing. How does all this rule bending without oversight get done?

  3. So as to not be mistaken for a empty building. We have been told “artists” from TVCC will paint boxing scenes on the windows. No design reviews required and no skills necessary. And we worried about payday loan shops? Oh and I too was told we don’t have a plan for the use of that property if we did take the building down. What happened to the request from the Economic Development Committee that was the catalyst to buy the building in the first place? Their efforts and plan called for a Plaza.
    That plan was unilaterally vetoed by Eljay Waite without so much as a call to the people who made the proposal for the plaza. I am very pleased to see this latest move is now out in the open.
    Eljay, that money is not your money to spend as you see fit. That’s why you have a board of directors. The real question in all of this is who’s in charge of Eljay?

  4. In Nampa we finaly have a majority of council members and a Mayor who believe that the taxpayers should be represented on the UR board by people that have to stand for election. Perhaps the citizens of Caldwell might want to make that change. I wish we could have gotten this done a $100,000,000 ago.

  5. I got this response from Jarom Waggoner at the City Planning and Zoning Office. I understand and agree with limiting who can attend but once the meeting is completed and they go for a SUP then that document is open for a records request. For now here is Mr. Waggoner's email to me:
    Dear Mr. Alldredge:

    I understand that you wish to attend an upcoming meeting between the Optimist Club and a few members of the city planning and zoning/engineering department. These types of meetings are often referred to colloquially as “roundtable” meetings. In these informal roundtable meetings, citizens are permitted to ask questions of city staff regarding their efforts to locate or relocate within the city, and are often held in anticipation of that citizen’s intent to invest in or expand their business operations within the city. Such questions often involve the meaning of zoning designations, permitted or conditional uses in a given location, or are procedural questions regarding the city’s ordinances.

    For several reasons, including the fact that neither the City Council or the Planning and Zoning Commission is ever present at these roundtable meetings, such meetings are not intended nor required to be open to the public pursuant to Idaho’s Open Meetings Law. The meetings are informational only, and no decision is or can be made in such a setting.

    In fact, Idaho law encourages some level of confidentiality concerning the business discussed at these meetings; presumably to encourage such things as investors bringing business into the state without having to reveal their plans to competitors. For example, Idaho Code § 9-340D(6) provides an exemption from the Public Records laws for “[r]ecords gathered by a local agency . . . for the specific purpose of assisting a person to locate, maintain, invest in, or expand business operations in the state of Idaho.” Notes taken at these roundtables, for example, may constitute the types of records referred to in that code section.

    For these reasons, we make it a practice to only allow third parties to attend such roundtable meetings at the invitation of the party calling the meeting.

    Jarom Wagoner

    Senior Planner/Development Team Leader

  6. I don't get a couple of things and the first of which is why would any parent let a child engage in boxing with all the evidence of brain damage related to this sport. Next, the Optimists Club does not seem motivated to get their free building up and running and if money is the issue why isn't urban renewal funding this when they gave the YMCA a million/year for a good number of years. How much could it cost to get a steel building erected on city park property donated to the Optimists for this building?

    Last, how does keeping this building add any value to Caldwell? The hole in Boise created an opportunity for a beautiful new building in downtown Boise. It took a while but the vacant space created the opportunity. Keeping the King's building adds no value nor does it inspire anyone to do something on that corner.

  7. It doesn't matter what you do with downtown Caldwell unless you figure out a way to attract people and give them a reason to go downtown. Right now the main attraction in downtown is the Post Office and Banks. It all needs to be demolished, scraped into a pile of bricks and hauled to the landfill.

    Those old buildings are not safe and spending money to bring them up to code makes no sense. Who in their right mind would make the kind of investment to bring these old buildings back to life? And if they did how much rent would the project generate for the owner? Right now you can rent space for $2.50/ft. Sorry but it does not pencil out as a viable investment. Add to all of this are the assessed values that are simply wrong and it makes it an even worse investment.

  8. I've got an idea....let's throw some more money at it!.....Wait...D'OH

  9. February 12, 2014

    Theresa Hardin, Executive Director
    Caldwell Chamber of Commerce
    704 Blaine
    Caldwell, ID 83605

    Dear Theresa,

    Thank you for taking time yesterday to hear and learn of my deep concern for what has, and is happening to downtown Caldwell.

    I am from a different era having moved here as a youngster with my parents in 1937. During the 1950’s and 1960’s Caldwell was a vibrant retail and commercial center for Southwest Idaho.

    It has been so disheartening to watch Caldwell deteriorate into a bedroom community while Nampa’s economy and population continue to blossom.

    Caldwell’s latest fiasco was the closing of Kings Variety Store and then to see it sit vacant as a downtown eyesore. Then to read an article in the Press Tribune that the building will house, rent free, the Caldwell Optimist Boxing Club.

    This really pours salt in an open wound for the Caldwell Optimist Club rents my building at 221 N. Kimball. In effect, my tax dollars were used to purchase the King’s property and then again using my tax dollars to give my tenant a rent free building! The city has now become my competition!

    I had no objections for the city to purchase the property with the announced purpose to demolish the building. This is what downtown Caldwell needs—more open space and parking.

    I encourage the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce to use its influence to see that the King’s building is demolished!


    Glenn Koch

    23306 Freezeout Rd.

    Caldwell, ID 83607

  10. THE GUARDIAN had a phone conversation with Mr. Koch upon receipt of his letter to the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce about the Optimists Boxing program. Mr. Koch shared the club has struggled to stay current with the rent on his building and are currently about $300 behind in the utilities that he has in his name. The Optimist Club has not given him a 30 notice of vacating his property as required by Idaho Law. Mr. Koch stated his concern if they can't afford to pay the rent and utilities where they are in his building, how will they be able to pay just the heating and electric bills for the much larger King's building?

  11. Where does all this stupidity come from? If the boxing people can't afford to pay the rent and utilities where they are, why do Caldwell taxpayers have to support this effort. A lousy $20 a month per kid would keep them where they are. Do any of these kids families contribute anything to this?

  12. If I owned a business in or near downtown I can't understand how this move will be an economic plus. This is nothing but more blight on blight. It is another attempt at more lipstick on a pig for downtown.

  13. Just my $.02. I too attended the workshop with the city council, and I left with no doubt in my mind that Mr. Waite guaranteed that bids for building demolition would be in hand on or before April 1st. As he did not understand the process himself, he asked Mr. Orton to lay out the timeline of doing so. At no time did Mr. Waite inform the citizens of Caldwell that he would not do what we all knew he had silently let us believe.

    Many in our city government I trust; I also believe that they know more on certain issues than I do. But not in this case. I was lied to. We were lied to.

  14. Many of us got involved as Eljay attemped to give away part of our golf course. We got that stopped! Now in defiance of citizen recomendation, and his boards instruction. He refuses to take down the empty kings building.I think it is time for a new ur charman.Oh by the way he works for the mayor. So this can be accomplished. We should not be having this problem!

  15. Eljay could use a chin job!

  16. This is the 3rd time this guy has screwed with the people in this town. Twice over the golf course trying to give a way land adjacent to the hospital and now this. He works for the mayor, then the Mayor needs to put it to a stop or give us all a good reason to keep hin on the job.

  17. If this goes forward we need to cede downtown to more blight, more secondhand stores and more used clothing stores. It will not move forward with this accommodation as a poorly sited facility for the Optimists.

  18. Hi
    It feels so nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on regarding Really thankful to you for starting this.

  19. Who would buy one of those old buildings in downtown. King's sat there for the longest time and no takers. There will be no rejuvenation of downtown with private money. It just costs too much and then the code issues and all the attendant crap that goes with code requirements ...blagh! Once renovated who would rent anything downtown at a price that would make the project a money maker? Sorry, but it all needs to just go to the dump.

  20. Can a citizen initiate condemnation proceedings to force removal?

    1. The short answer is NO! However, the Mayor, City Councilors and appointed officials react to public pressure. If enough citizen backlash is brought to this issue, they tend to listen. They also react to lawsuits as the cost of dealing with them is expensive and time consuming. Legal action should be a last resort and I do not recommend it.

  21. I like the comment about blight on blight... perhaps it may be that a double negative will equal a positive.. (logic and math). If this program is so poorly funded, the kids parents won't fund it. the cops won't fund it and the Optimists are barely funding it right now it may be time to consider unwinding this program. We have a heavily subsidized YMCA where these kids can take part in all manner of activities but they will all have to pay something.

  22. I heard a current business owner in downtown wanted to move to another location that would expand his operation, provide more jobs and hopefully attract more people to the bigger venue. He went in to find out the issues he would have to deal with and a one time fee of $13,000 for water and sewer killed the project. Meanwhile out at Sky Ranch the city keepers of the realm can't give away money quick enough. Downtown Caldwell will never go anywhere until city officials wake up to the fact most of the businesses are going to be Mom and Pop operators and a little help would go a long way to create the catalyst everyone in city government is always talking about. A few bucks in the way of concessions would help an otherwise stagnant area of Caldwell.

  23. It amazes me how little the support downtown Caldwell has had from urban renewal money. We have Indian Creek uncovered and called "revitalized". Sorry folks, it has always been there and "revitalized"? Next we have a community college with a building that is land-locked and has done nothing for downtown as a "catalyst" project. Urban renewal money spent downtown has been squandered and it can all be attributed to Mayor Nancolas and Eljay Waite. And now we have this misguided effort with the King's building. Even more astounding is the lack of concern from business owners in Caldwell.

    Nampa is finally taking steps to reign in urban renewal and will dismiss all members of the board except those who serve on their city council. No guarantee this will stop stupid spending of tax dollars but it will give some accountability with a direct line to the voters.

  24. It is the only way Pam White could figure out how she would have any say in future Nampa UR actions as she was off the UR board on Jan. 1 As a member of the Council she will again have a vote

  25. Would somebody PLEASE give me the logical defense for $60 million+ dollars spent of taxpayer money? And out of all this no effort to revitalize our downtown. It is time for the ur board to reign in Eljay Waite. Let's get a professional planner and a citizen board and they can direct the director. By the way ur money will continue until 2022. So there is still time for the wake-up call or should I say the Waite wake-up call.

  26. I, for one, miss the King's store. In speaking to Mr. King the only reason he left Caldwell is because he was mistreated by our city "Fathers". If you don't believe, call & ask him. He'll give you an earful of why he will never do business in Caldwell again & that's why he GAVE THE BUILDING AWAY to the Salvation Army.
    So now we have diehard Caldwell enthusiasts wanting to put a Plaza in it's place. Sounds like a wonderful plan to me. It would be a boost to all the Main Street business owners if they could open up their back doors to the plaza. But no. Eljay has it in his plan to put a plaza where Vern's is. But guess what? Vern's ain't going away. Sorry, Charlie!
    I think we all need a trip to Disneyland so that we can put the mess that Caldwell has become behind us. But 1st I'll need to patronize the Pay Day loan sharks for an advance.

  27. To prove a point about downtown.. the property is worthless. Don't believe then when was the last time anyone besides urban renewal bought any of it. The king's building sat empty for the last 4 years with for sale signs in the windows. Load it up into a pile and haul it to the land fill, then someone might actually do something with the dirt but that may not happen either. Property across the street is just about vacant with just the old mister c's building on most of that property. It has some value but it will take someone willing to deal with the city inorder to build something new.

  28. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  29. Brian Billingsley P & Z director of Caldwell is quoted at hearing before the Legislature on HB 480 yesterday which would give more freedom to property owners vs. govt.. edict is quoted as saying " If you take design revue away from my city, it would hurt downtown business owners who desire a beautiful and safe environment for their business" Does this guy even go downtown?

    1. I would offer that Brian was the driving force at establishing design review standards in Caldwell. I can also attest that all special use permitting applications come to his department for review before they go to the P&Z Commission. He is a very thorough person in my past dealings with Mr. Billingsley.

    2. More regulation must be working--It is just hard to see

  30. City leaders of Caldwell failed to look around and get a few lessons on how to make a city a success. Two great examples are Meridian and Eagle. They were nothing to write about not that long ago. Meridian now owns a huge portion of Ada County's retail business and Eagle is a very desirable community as well. Nancy Merrill got their community to show some backbone in the face of a huge amount of developer pressure. Today, they have people waiting in line to buy homes and live there. Caldwell continues to struggle with anything resembling the desire to be anything other than an also-ran place.

  31. If Eljay wants to give the Optimists boxing program a home then why not let them use the Police station workout facility and they can set the boxing ring up at O'Connor Field House until they can figure out a plan to finance the free steel building given to them.
    I for one, and getting pretty sick and tired of all the programs around that users don't want to fund. Where are the parents of the kids involved in this program and why can't they pony up the cash to keep the program afloat? Between free lunches, free afterschool programs. the nearly free use of the YMCA, and all the other heavily subsidized youth programs, it may be time for this one to go away. TBI would be the main reason for me to not allow one of my children to participate in this program. It just needs to go away and they find a kinder gentler way for kids to work off adolescent steam.

  32. The idea of using the Cop Shop for the boxing program is a great idea. It might give a boost to more involvement by the police staff in this program. It would surely stop the discussion about the Kings building.

  33. The Chief of Caldwell's Police will never let the Optimists use the police gym. The popo's won't want to share their gym with anyone.

  34. Why not use the old St. Mary's gymnasium for the Optimist boxing program? The gym sits empty and unused most of each week.


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