Blackfoot Plans for Growth

Rex Moffat, superintendent of Blackfoot's wastewater treatment plant, points at one of the City's sewer lines which services part of the County.
By: 
Catie Clark
Reporter

The Blackfoot City Council held a special session on Monday, March 26, to receive a report on the annual audit of the City's books and to discuss economic development, strategic planning and the ability of the City's services to accommodate growth. The audit was covered by a separate article published on tuesday in the March 27 issue of the Morning News.

Economic Development

Julie Ann Goodrich gave a presentation on the City's current economic development efforts. She showed the Blackfoot's new economic profile package, or "Black-pack," for distribution to business developers. The contents outline Blackfoot's advantages as a business-friendly location.
Goodrich also reviewed the economic conditions of the City with respect to attracting more business, including the attractions of small town life and favorable location. She noted the need for education to give students job skills and the need for desirable jobs to prevent people from moving away. She also warned about obstacles in attracting new businesses including a developing housing shortage and increasing property costs.
Goodrich said that there were currently 19 prospects looking at Blackfoot, comprised of 4 possible expansions of current firms and 15 potential new businesses.
In the discussion that followed, the Council commented on Blackfoot's ability to expand services for new businesses and residents.
Councilman Christopher Jensen remarked: "You can't build a community by just adding more houses. We're a bedroom community but not a growing bedroom community. Our population is stagnant."

Strategic Planning

The City's director of planning and zoning, Kurt Hibbert, outlined the current strategic planning effort for business and residential growth.
"The effectiveness of writing goals down in a plan and using it can not be overestimated," Hibbert said. He also responded to Jensen's earlier comment: "Idaho is the fastest growing state in the nation. We will not be stagnant for very long."
Hibbert then outlined how the Blackfoot works with the County on services in a predefined area of influence that surrounds city limits. Both Hibbert and Mayor Marc Carroll remarked on the need to look at the City's current services and where those would need to be expanded to accommodate future growth.
"If we want growth," Carroll said, "then we need to look at our current capacities."
Several of the City's department heads then reviewed the City's services and other matters like unattractive properties which could present barriers to growth.

Wastewater Infrastructure

Rex Moffat, superintendent of Blackfoot's wastewater treatment plant reviewed the City's sewer and storm water systems, including where Blackfoot provides services to County residents within Blackfoot's area of influence outside of city limits.
He commented that the levy measure for the Snake River school district had passed in the election earlier this month. Part of those moneys would pay for piping and a connection between the Snake River High School complex and Blackfoot's sewer system. He also mentioned that there were plans to add Riverside Elementary School next year.
When asked if the wastewater treatment plant could handle growth, Moffat replied: "If it's housing, yes, we can do it. If it's business, it depends on what sort of business it is." He explained that some types of businesses would need to do pre-treatment of waste if those had elevated suspended solids and high biochemical oxygen demand.

Water

Water superintendent Vernon Cannon outlines the City's current capacity to deliver water to its customers. He explained that expanding the water system was not difficult, and would entail drilling one or more new wells and adding an additional storage tank.
He commented that there was a possible future problem of water quality. The City was lucky not to be in one of the nitrate contaminated areas in the region but that Blackfoot had no control over water practices of areas upstream of Blackfoot in the aquifer's groundwater flow.
"Septic and nitrate contamination from other places can flow in the aquifer into our water and we have no control over that."

City Code Enforcement

Police Chief Kurt Asmus addressed issues of enforcing City codes for property upkeep, which he relabeled as "minimum maintenance" violations. The City has an officer who observes and writes citations for not keeping up on minimum maintenance. He mentioned that the City usually issues warnings but less than 20 ten-day clean-up citations every year. He also discussed problems with enforcing those citations.
"We can write a citation but if a property owner is a landlord in New York City, they just don't care." He outlined the difficulties of both time and cost in taking minimum maintenance violators to court and in issuing liens.
He mentioned that given the other things the police need to do, enforcing minimum maintenance was not a high priority for the department.
"I'd rather have an officer patrolling on the street than having a minimum maintenance officer," Asmus said.

Annexation

Hibbert addressed current rumors concerning that Blackfoot was moving to annex unincorporated land in the County: "There's a rumor going around just in the last few days that we're going after the Groveland area."
Hibbert showed a panning map he made for the Moreland Water and Sewer District. The map was prepared in order to discuss possible future annexation of mostly commercial property in Moreland, much of which is already connected to Blackfoot's wastewater system.
"We're looking at possibly annexing in these commercial areas, but not in the residential area of Groveland," said Hibbert.

Category: