Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Developer sought for downtown Park Avenue property

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is seeking a developer

to renovate the vacant property at 336 Park Avenue.
The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency is looking for a developer to revitalize 336 Park Avenue, vacant since 2015. Responses are due Nov. 8.

Located between the Paisley Camel and the Villa Coffeehouse, the property was most recently the Pfaff Sewing Center. “Proposed developments are encouraged to take advantage of this site and its location on one of downtown’s most active streets and incorporate eating and drinking establishments, office support uses, or other uses supportive to residential housing on upper floors,” the request for proposals says (find the document with this link.)

The agency will negotiate with the selected developer leading to the preparation of a disposition and development agreement. Community Development Block Grant funds may be available for the restoration of the façade. "The project should be an aesthetically pleasing and efficient
project that will complement and enhance downtown.“The agency hopes the proposed development will significantly increase residential uses downtown in order to increase economic activity in the urban core of Idaho Falls. The design and uses should activate this key location,” the RFP says.

The building dates back to 1896. Based on Sanborn Map records, it housed a printing service and a drug store from then until 1905. From 1905 until 1921 the property operated as a saloon and billiards parlor on the main floor with lodging on the upper floor.

There is a gap in the city’s records from 1921 until 1946, but from the historical research I have done for my “Looking Back” column in the Post Register I can report that the Battery Cigar Store was at 330 Park Avenue in 1926. It was the scene of a sidewalk shooting in October that year in which Ed Irwin, a clerk at the cigar store, was shot by Herman Albers, the operator of a billiard hall on A Street. Albers was acquitted in December 1926 at the end of a 3 1/2-day trial.

From 1946 until 1954, according to Polk City Directories, tenants included Kellar Cigar Store, the Alaska Bar, and the Spud Bar and Billiards. Starting in 1956, the property moved to primarily retail and service uses. From 1956 to 1968, city directories list Young Town Clothing and Green’s Apparel and Women’s Clothing as the tenants. In 1970, the building became home to Pfaff Sewing Center, which it remained until 2015. Since then it has been vacant, with a condemnation notice in the window.

The Redevelopment Agency outlines the following criteria for anyone seeking to apply:

  • Commercial or community uses on the ground floor including, but not limited to retail, restaurant, service, and office uses.
  • Development of the upper floor into commercial, professional, or residential uses.
  • Addressing concerns raised in the structural engineer’s report and making the building safe and secure according to current building codes.
  • The commitment to follow the Idaho Falls Downtown Design Guidelines for
  • rehabilitation of structures.
  • The restoration of the exterior of the building.
  • Contribution to development of downtown and local employment and economy.
  • Probability of the proposed development’s success – based upon the stability and capability of the developer, demonstrated success based on past development projects undertaken by the developer, market analysis, business plan, financial strength, and timeline.
  • Ability to secure permits for construction within thirty (30) days of the closing date (to be determined).

Developer’s expectations of the Agency for the project’s success.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Land donation for event center at Snake River Landing finalized

Artist's rendering of what an Idaho Falls Events Center might look like
Idaho Falls Auditorium District (IFAD) on Thursday accepted a 22-acre land donation for the site of the Idaho Falls Event Center, a parcel within Snake River Landing. The donation was made by Ball Ventures/Snake River Landing to fulfill a commitment made in 2009 to donate land.

Construction will commence later this month on Event Center Drive, a 5-lane street designed to provide main access to the Event Center facility. Construction of the new street will be managed by Snake River Landing.

“Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing have worked side-by-side with the Idaho Falls Auditorium District in the planning and preparation of the site and required infrastructure,” says Eric Isom, Snake River Landing's chief development officer. “The completion of the land donation and the construction of Event Center Drive are the culmination of a lot of hard work by the many people involved, and show the Idaho Falls Auditorium District’s ongoing commitment to make continued progress toward completion of this wonderful project.”

“Ball Ventures is pleased to make this donation in support of the event center project,” said Cortney Liddiard, CEO of Ball Ventures. “We believe the event center will be an asset to the community and will promote additional economic development and increase the quality of life in the region.”

In 2009, during the early stages of the event center planning, the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce tasked an advisory committee with selecting the site for the future event center. Snake River Landing was selected from a number of proposals due to the high visibility of the location, convenient access to I-15, and for the ability to integrate the event center into the overall design of the mixed-use development.

“This donation is the catalyst for the road development and ultimately the event center,” said IFAD board chairwoman Terri Gazdik. “The Ball Ventures group has been instrumental in so many phases of this project.

“My wife Connie and I have always felt it is important for us to give back to the community that has given so much to our family," Ball Ventures founder Allen Ball said. "This goal has been much of the driving force behind the Snake River Landing development, and this land donation helps to accomplish this goal.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

INL receives funding for commercialization of seven technologies

Idaho National Laboratory has received funding awards for seven projects proposed to the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). TCF was created in 2005 to promote promising energy technologies across DOE’s national labs. Total funding awarded by DOE this cycle totals over $20 million across 10 national labs and 71 private sector partners. By funding received, INL was the third most awarded laboratory, receiving $2.4 million in TCF funds and $4.8 million with matching industry funds.

Each project was selected for its potential to advance promising commercial energy technologies and strengthen partnerships between INL and private sector companies to deploy energy technologies to the marketplace.

Topic 1
Topic 1 projects identify technology maturation activities to attract a private partner. Each Topic 1 project is matched with nonfederal funds from a private sector partner or through the INL Royalty Fund. INL’s Topic 1 winners are:

Active Measurement Cancellation, $75,000
Principal Investigator: David Jamison, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
This project proposes to develop and demonstrate a portable, one-of-a-kind, stand-alone instrument to assess battery module health. The benefits of Active Measurement Cancellation (AMC) include the ability to measure the impedance — or internal resistance — of a battery in real time, without modifying the battery circuit, even when it is energized. A battery that fails with a significant internal resistance rise cannot supply power externally. AMC technology provides researchers the ability to measure internal resistance on an energized battery without isolation or disassembly, making it unique within the battery industry. AMC testing ensures that batteries are safe and effective both before consumer release and during the life span of the battery. This TCF funding will help researchers provide AMC at a competitive price for greater commercial adoption.

Direct Electrochemical Valorization of Captured Carbon Dioxide, $150,000
Principal Investigator: Luis Diaz Aldana, Energy & Environment Science & Technology
Partner: Carbon Clean Solutions, Cincinnati, Ohio
The integration of carbon capture with carbon utilization (CCU) can help enable the economic feasibility of carbon capture technologies by generating additional value from the production of commodity chemicals and fuels. INL’s CCU technology enables process intensification by combining capture media regeneration and carbon dioxide upgrading to refinery grade syngas in a single step. This funding will help address the maturation and development of the CCU electrochemical reactor.

Mobile Efficient Modified Delta Robotic Non-Destructive Examination Platform, $73,404
Principal Investigator: Anthony Crawford, Nuclear Science & Technology
This project will include designing a mobile 3-D scanning platform and testing its performance in laboratory and industry settings. The mobility and modified configuration of this platform would allow the device to achieve in-field scans not traditionally possible with conventional systems. The mobility also enables the device to discretely progress along a component, resulting in multiple section scan images that can then be stitched together to achieve a complete component representation. This will enable many in-field nondestructive examination applications, like evaluating pipeline welds, airplane turbine blades, nuclear reactor components and more. The system also has potential benefit in the 3-D additive manufacturing arena, because it may enable in-field multiple component integration and repair.

Topic 2
Topic 2 projects cooperatively advance a lab-developed technology in collaboration with a private sector partner to bolster commercial application. Each Topic 2 project is matched with funds from a private sector partner. INL’s Topic 2 winners are:

Enable Safe and Reliable Operations of Nuclear Power Plants through a Highly Dynamic and Integrated Work Management System, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Johanna Oxstrand, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Devbridge Group LLC, Chicago, Illinois
INL will develop and commercialize a dynamic work management (DWM) system in partnership with Devbridge Group LLC. This system will be compatible with existing nuclear plants and potential new builds, and will include tools for smart scheduling, planning, procedure authoring and field work. The software will also enable smooth interaction between legacy systems. The DMW solution will be intuitive to use and will support all roles in the work management process, such as planners, supervisors, field workers and engineers. The DMW solution will empower nuclear operation, as well as increase safety and human performance related to work execution in the field by enabling the standardization of work procedures, simplification of task completion and application of real-time data analytics.

High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple, $300,000
Principal Investigator: Richard Skifton, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Idaho Laboratories Corporation, Idaho Falls, Idaho
The High-Temperature Irradiation-Resistant Thermocouple is a breakthrough in the field of temperature measurement. It is also the only sensor specifically designed for operating reliably in high-temperature radiation environments. The accurate measurements of temperatures that it can deliver between 1,100 and 1,700°C are important to safe, efficient and economical industrial operations. In such high-temperature environments, thermocouples are the most widely used industrial temperature sensors because they are rugged, affordable and accurate — but unfortunately after installation, commercial thermocouples are prone to decalibration and can provide increasingly unreliable readings as they age. As operating temperatures and thermal cycling increase, the longevity of thermocouples also decreases. This project will provide to the market a reliable and durable thermocouple for high temperatures.

Prognostic Inspection Analysis at Nuclear Power Plants through an Advanced Imaging Service, $325,000
Principal Investigator: Troy Unruh, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: LPI Inc., Amesbury, Massachusetts
This project will develop prognostic inspection analysis tools by deploying the existing INL Change Detection System (CDS) technology and expertise as an advanced imaging service, specifically for use in nuclear facility applications. The developments will provide an intuitive user interface with powerful image processing algorithms that will allow users to rapidly detect changes in processed images. Major objectives include the development of a software application for prognostic inspection analysis, software demonstration using imagery from nuclear power plants, deployment of this technology, and feedback from LPI on the measured benefit and cost or time savings of this technology.

Pilot Demonstration of a Wireless Valve Position Indication Sensor System in Nuclear Power Plants, $750,000
Principal Investigator: Vivek Agarwal, Nuclear Science & Technology
Partner: Exelon Generation Company LLC, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
One of the tasks performed by personnel in a nuclear power plant on a regular basis is independent or concurrent verification of manual valve position, which requires two or sometimes three people. To address these concerns, a research team at INL has developed a wireless valve position indication (VPI) sensor system that can be retrofitted on three primary manual valve types to replace manual valve position verification with digital verification, and to enable online monitoring of manual valves. Retrofitting the wireless VPI sensor system does not require any valve modification. By enabling digital verification and remote online monitoring, implementation would generate significant cost savings during plant outages, extend the calibration cycles (calibration is currently performed in every outage) and ensure valve health monitoring as part of a reduction in downtime. It would also reduce the risk of exposing plant personnel to industrial and regulatory hazards, along with a significant reduction in human errors.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

City of Idaho Falls to begin residential fiber pilot project

The Idaho Falls City Council has authorized Idaho Falls Power, the city-owned utility, to begin a pilot program to examine the costs associated with providing high-speed fiber optic access to Idaho Falls residences.

“Essentially, Idaho Falls Power already manages a large infrastructure that provides fiber to numerous local businesses, government and schools,” said Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber. “What this resolution does is formally direct us to prove the feasibility of expanding our network throughout the city.”

Prairie said that the pilot will allow Idaho Falls Power critical connectivity with residential electric customers to provide better power monitoring and customer service. It will also deliver previously unavailable fiber access for internet connectivity if customers want to use the additional bandwidth.

“With this project, I wish to make clear that we are not interested in becoming an Internet service provider.  We anticipate local companies will want to provide this service. What we can do is get the fiber physically to the homes and maintain the infrastructure. That is something Idaho Falls Power is really good at.”

Idaho Falls Power already maintains hundreds of miles of power and fiber lines that are run above ground on poles or buried underground throughout neighborhoods. With the passage of the Sept. 27 resolution, work now begins within the study area to design a network that will provide connections from those lines to homes.

“Designing a system like this is a detailed, complicated engineering function,” Prairie said. “This is why the council also approved an agreement for us to work with Utopia, a company specializing in network design and management. It important to note that Utopia won’t be a service provider, they’ll simply help design and manage an open access system. The system will still rely on local companies to partner with to provide internet service.”

Prairie pointed out that because Idaho Falls Power already has the fiber backbone and can run new lines through existing power infrastructure, the utility can build the residential fiber network at a fraction of the cost any other company would face.

The actual boundaries for the pilot program have not yet been finalized.  However, the general area includes the numbered streets bordered by 17th Street and Tautphaus Park and will also extend south into a number of residential areas south of Sunnyside Road.

Idaho Falls Fiber will be sending out a letter in early October to residents in the pilot area. An open house also will be held at 6 p.m. on October 23 at Taylorview Middle School to explain the program in greater detail to residents living in the pilot project boundaries.

Design of the network will begin right away with construction expected to start early in November and continue through the spring. Service to customers will become available as the project progresses, beginning sometime between December and May, depending on customer location.

NOTE: If you're interested in the growing trend of municipalities stringing their own fiber -- and the laws in some states (but not Idaho) aimed at checking the trend, this piece recently ran in Wired:
Small-town ingenuity is making gigabit broadband a reality



Friday, September 28, 2018

Downtown Development receives Redevelopment Agency funds

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation has been awarded $945,000 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency for downtown projects, including street improvements and new parking technology. IFDDC's mission is to promote and care for the downtown area by promoting and advocating the downtown consistently.

"This funding will maintain the great momentum we have downtown with the development at The Broadway, the renovation of the Bonneville Hotel and many other renovations taking place in the core of downtown Idaho Falls,” said Executive Director Catherine Smith in a press release Friday afternoon. “The downtown has seen significant growth in the last 18 months and we are thrilled to be part of the efforts both as a catalyst for this growth and grateful recipient of the downtown experience."

The funds will be used for three distinct projects downtown:

• The first project will be the Broadway streetscape from Memorial Drive to Yellowstone Highway running east to west. The entire stretch will be addressed with all new curb and gutter, sidewalks, trees, and planter pots. A drip irrigation line will be installed as well. This will reduce the number of labor hours spent to hand-water the vegetation and flowers along Broadway during the growing season.

• The second project will be to address the broken and crumbling planter boxes found throughout downtown at each intersection. The planter boxes are estimated to have been installed in the 1970s, with trees planted within the concrete boxes. Over the years the boxes have deteriorated as the roots of the large trees have been constricted as well as the harsh extremes of cold and hot.

Funds will be spent on pavers with the appropriate trees for the urban landscape, plus new curb, gutter, and sidewalks. This design will allow the trees to grow in a healthy setting in soil in the ground. The design will be consistent throughout downtown and tie into the Broadway streetscape.

• The third project will include the purchase of parking meters to be installed in off-street-parking lots currently managed by IFDDC. By adding technology to the off-street-parking lots, parking customers will have a similar experience to pay-to-park in the core of downtown that is found in larger cities. The machines will allow the processing of credit cards as well as servicing the validation program for downtown restaurants, bars, and merchants that Downtown Development offers for off-street-parking patrons.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dutch Bros plans grand opening Monday for second Idaho Falls location

The new Dutch Bros Idaho Falls store, at 830 E. 17th Street, is having its grand opening Monday. 
Dutch Bros Coffee will be holding a grand opening Monday morning at its second Idaho Falls location. The new location at 830 E. 17th St. (in the Shopko parking lot) will be open Monday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The coffee stand will also be offering a 9-stamp loyalty card with every large drink purchased. The drive-thru coffee stand will be donating all of its opening day proceeds to Idaho Falls High School. (Other schools will be getting their own turn, according to the Facebook page, so nobody get upset, OK?)

Dutch Bros opened its first location in Idaho Falls on Woodruff Ave. in May and is hoping to find the same levels of success. “We are so excited to be expanding our presence in Idaho Falls,” said Tonya Thomason, operator of both Idaho Falls stores, in a press release. “We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in the community.”

Dutch Bros Coffee is the country’s largest privately held drive-thru coffee company, with more than 300 locations and 9,000 employees in seven states.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Four from INL honored by Profiles in Diversity

Cheré D. Morgan
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly
Four women from Idaho National Labora-tory have been selected as Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity, a national publication dedicated to promoting and advancing diversity and inclusion in the corporate, government, non-profit, STEM and higher education sectors.

The list of Women Worth Watching contains leaders from a variety of industries throughout the U.S. and the world. The recognition is designed to recognize and publicly celebrate the achievements of women who are “leading the way to excellence in the workplace, marketplace and the world.”

Each awardee is featured in a full-page highlight in the fall issue of Diversity Journal magazine.

Congratulations to the four INL winners:

Cheré D. Morgan, Radiological Control and Emergency Management director (p. 97)
Dr. Donna J. O’Kelly, Materials and Fuels Complex chief operations officer (p.35)
Jennifer B. Porter, battalion fire chief (p. 36)
Heidi K. Scott, Performance Management lead (p. 39)

Heidi K. Scott
“We’re honored to have these four incredible women at Idaho National Laboratory recognized as Women Worth Watching. Recognition of our employees is confirmation that the steps we’re taking to promote a vibrant culture of inclusive diversity to fuel growth and drive innovation is making a real-world impact,” said Dr. Mark Peters, INL director.

Jennifer B. Porter
You can view each INL awardee’s spotlight profile in the online magazine issue here.