City officially gives parking lot name to historic past
Residents driving past the new parking lot on East Jackson between North Main (Highway 30) and North 2nd East on March 18, may have noticed the new "El Rancho Public Parking" sign being installed on the western corner of the lot.
The sign's old El Rancho Restaurant logo connects the lot to the history of Mountain Home.
Newer residents and younger people, the sign may not be aware of the significance of the design and name on the sign, but to long time residents, it represents a link to Mountain Home history.
When the El Rancho coffee shop and restaurant was built on the site of an old gas station in the early 1950's, it became one of the main social gathering places in Mountain Home.
Until it was demolished by the State of Idaho for the construction of the new rail road underpass in 2001, the El Rancho was part of Mountain Home's social scene. It was where friends met for coffee, meals, meetings, banquets, wedding receptions and other celebrations.
From the time the city counsel members conceived of purchasing the state-owned lot to be used for public parking, Mayor Tom Rist said the Mountain Home City Council referred to the land as the "El Rancho lot."
The State of Idaho sold the land to the City of Mountain Home in 2008 with the stipulation that the land could not be sold to a private concern and could only be used for public parking.
During 2008, the city completed grading and paving the lot. They ran out of time before winter set in, so, with funds already allocated, the city is currently completing the sprinkler system, sod installation, planting trees in containers and installing a drip system for the trees.
Mayor Rist said, while there are no further funds available at this time, the city hopes to be able to add more features to the park area when the economy recovers. They would like to build a bandstand or gazebo and commission a mural to be painted on the wall below the park.
Meanwhile, as with other city parks, the El Rancho lot is available for events and has already been booked for an auto event in June.