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EDITORIAL: His business is building a better community

| December 28, 2022 1:00 AM

Hayden suffered a major loss recently, and the timing makes that loss even more regretful.

Two weeks ago, John Young, a builder in every positive sense of the word, resigned from Hayden’s urban renewal board of directors. He had served that board faithfully for a dozen years. When he stepped down, he also gave up the board chair’s seat.

Urban renewal in Idaho has long had a bull's-eye on its back, put there primarily by people who don’t support economic development generally or quasi-governmental involvement specifically.

Urban renewal improves the value of property so that it generates more tax revenue to pay for public services, as well as creating more jobs. The people who oversee cities’ urban renewal agencies by voluntarily serving on their boards represent a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, but it’s unlikely any profession better qualifies someone for board service than the building and construction industry.

Those qualifications come with a caveat. A builder/developer must have unimpeachable character because the information available to urban renewal boards can offer competitive advantages. Proven again and again over many years, John Young has displayed integrity beyond reproach.

Young resigned from Hayden’s urban renewal agency board because of a property purchase he made three years ago. On attorney advice, he was told the purchase would pass legal muster. He fully disclosed the purchase to his fellow board members, so there was no attempt at secrecy or anything underhanded.

Only recently — in fact, about the time Young was publicly pushing back against anti-urban renewal interests — did a different legal opinion suggest Young could not serve on the board and own that property. So Young resigned.

The loss here is twofold. One, Hayden has officially lost one of its greatest economic development champions. With the lowest tax base around, Hayden needs all the revenue-generating help it can get to meet the needs of its citizens, and through his service on the urban renewal board, Young provided that in spades.

But the other loss is even more lamentable. To suggest that Young has unethically taken advantage of his volunteer position on the board is both inaccurate and reprehensible. If the perception of his integrity has been even slightly diminished, then a horrible injustice has been committed.

As Young’s business has boomed over decades in Kootenai County, he has consistently given back to the community both in his time and his treasure. Kootenai Health, the Boys & Girls Clubs, the technical schools on the Rathdrum Prairie and many, many other worthy institutions and organizations have been blessed by his generous gifts and keen mind.

If any Kootenai County resident has done more good than John Young for the people here, usually without taking an ounce of credit, that individual is the region’s best-kept secret.

And for readers of this editorial, prepare for the next assault against urban renewal in the upcoming legislative session. Those who would go out of their way to steamroll a good man like John Young have a broader objective in mind.

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