History of the Pocatello Idaho Temple Site
Written September 23, 2018 by Ryan Satterfield
There has been a great desire for many years to have a Temple of the Lord in Pocatello. Although considered a railroad town, and settlement not necessarily in the LDS pioneer style as other Utah and southeast Idaho towns, Pocatello has always had a strong LDS population. Many Apostles of the Church are connected to Pocatello in one way or another. The saints of Pocatello, however, have been in the Idaho Falls Temple district since that temple was built and dedicated in 1945. After Idaho Falls, temples have been announced and built in Boise (1984), Rexburg (2008), Twin Falls (2008) and Meridian (2017). The question has frequently surfaced about when Pocatello would get a temple.
In the summer of 1987, not long after the Boise Idaho Temple was dedicated, my father, Kenneth Satterfield wrote a letter to the First Presidency offering to donate property owned by the Satterfield family to the Church for the purpose of building a temple. On September 1, 1987 the church responded with a letter stating they would accept a donation of land but the letter did not address the desire for the land to be used for a temple. To that letter my father responded expressing the purpose of the donation would be based on a desire to accommodate a temple. On November 30, 1987, Bishop Henry B. Eyring responded stating the following:
Dear Brother Satterfield:
Your recent letter of November 9, 1987 in which you offer to contribute land for the construction of a temple has been received at headquarters. We sincerely appreciate your generous offer.
At the present time there is no plan to build a temple in Pocatello and because of that, we are unable to accept your offer. Your letter will be kept on file and if at a future time the First Presidency should make a decision to consider Pocatello for a temple, we will be happy to contact you at that time to see if you are still interested.
Thank you again for your generosity.
Very truly yours,
Bishop Henry B. Eyring
Without a current desire to build a temple in Pocatello, Satterfield Realty & Development continued to build subdivisions and develop the Highland area with the hope that perhaps someday the time will come. Seven years later, in 1994, my father wrote another letter to the Church with an update of the developments and identifying some potential sites that may be possibilities for a future temple, even though there was no indication of a temple being built in Pocatello in the near future. That letter was received and generated a phone call from the Church Real Estate Division with some follow up questions and a request for possible locations. In June of 1995, Kenneth sent the Church some aerial photos and possible site locations that he had identified. On September 15th of that year, a Promissory Letter of Intent to Donate Land, signed by the Satterfield land owners, was sent to the Church. The letter reaffirmed their desire to donate property to the Church for the building of a temple and explained the desire to begin engineering design for plating and street improvement.
The Church responded positively, and requested signed donation forms, a legal description and an appraisal of the property, which were all provided by the end of the year. Of the options that my father sent them, they chose option 2, which was a 19 acre site off of the top of Lois Ln. but not connected to any current street, requiring the building of streets to access the parcel. Satterfield Realty then paid for and prepared a survey and preliminary plat and on September 24, 1997 received approval from the Community Development Commission of Pocatello for the preliminary plat known as Crestview Park 3rd Addition. This plat would extend the streets up to the donated site and have residential home sites around it. A deed was also prepared that would transfer ownership of the land to the Church. From that point, final engineering and road construction were the next step, but it was explained in a letter to the Church in December 1997 that without a temple announcement, it would not be wise to extend the services necessary to develop the subdivision due to the expense involved. The deed that transferred the donated 19 acres, was recorded on April 20, 1998. I was a senior in high school at the time and I remember my dad taking me up to the site and explaining to me what was happening as this was occurring.
It was then in April of 1998 that President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the building of smaller temples throughout the world. The focus became getting temples closer to church members, and the Pocatello temple concept was placed aside since the Idaho Falls Temple was still relatively close for the Pocatello saints. No further communication was had with the Church until December 2003, after the announcement of the Rexburg Idaho Temple. Ken wrote a letter to the Church with the concern that a Rexburg Temple may make a Pocatello Temple less necessary. All of the developments by Satterfield Realty & Development from 1998 till that time were strategically focused away from the donated parcel, saving that for when the Church was ready. This created a need to keep open communication with the Church at each move of development. To discuss future plans, a meeting was arranged with Dean Davies, the Director of the special projects department. On March 3, 2004, my dad and I drove to Salt Lake and met with Dean Davies and Tim Bawden about the future of the property. Dean Davies assured us that President Hinckley was very aware of the site in Pocatello, that he had walked it and would like to use it one day for a temple. We then had a discussion about the area and our development plans, which were then focused in areas away from the church site. That fall, the Twin Falls Idaho temple was announced.
Eight years passed without any contact with the Church about the donated property. The real estate market had crashed and there was very little building or development occurring. Our family company went through a major restructure and buyout in 2011 where my dad and I remained as the principal owners. In January of 2012, I contacted Dean Davies again with the concern about needing to develop around the donated ground. He invited me and my dad to come down to Salt Lake and meet. On February 16, 2012, my dad and I went again to their office to discuss the site and future plans. Dean Davies explained that the Pocatello site is a little different since the Church doesn’t always own property for a temple when a temple announcement is made. We discussed the need to extend a waterline that would service the area. Our need to develop in the area generated a conversation around taking back the donated property and offering a site in a future area when the Church was more ready for such a site. We also discussed the potential for reducing the acreage of the site and possible relocation of the site to the west and north where it would be closer to the existing Highland Stake Center. Over the next couple of years a design for a smaller parcel behind the Highland Stake Center was agreed upon and a property exchange occurred on September 22, 2015. This exchange allowed Satterfield Realty and Development to continue the Greenfield Meadows Subdivision to the North and start the Crestview Estates Subdivision to the South.
In November of 2016 we were contacted by the Church about processing an annexation for the new church parcel and the surrounding property. The Church discussed a potential desire to improve the property. We needed to initiate annexation on property around the Church site for our future phases of Greenfield Meadows and Crestview Estates so this proposal was very timely. I offered to manage the annexation request and plat process for the both of us. In January of 2017 we submitted for the annexation of 75 acres, 11 of which had been deeded previously to the Church and the remaining to be future developments in the Crestview Estates and Greenfield Meadows subdivisions. As seems to be consistent with public hearings involved with the annexation of property, we saw opposition to the annexation proposal. The opposition we received for this particular request was far greater than any previous opposition for annexation and development in our area, but the opposition had nothing to do with a potential temple site. I attribute this to Satan’s influence and his desire to stop the work of the Lord from progressing, and to frustrate God’s plan. It is apparent the great deceiver could see where this was heading although those who opposed it couldn’t. Between public hearings, in the Sunday morning session of the April General Conference 2017, President Thomas S. Monson made the announcement that a temple would be built in Pocatello Idaho. The following Thursday April 6th, 2017 (a fitting date since April 6th, 1830 was the day the Church of Jesus Christ was officially organized) was the final public hearing for the annexation with the City Council and the application for annexation was unanimously approved with only minor concern, mostly dealing with traffic. Those who were previously so adamantly opposed to any future development in the area and recruited many from the surrounding neighborhood to stand in opposition, no longer opposed the application as they started to see the potential this new development could have.
Although a temple was now announced, no official site had been publicly announced by the church. The Church had commissioned soils testing on the donated site, and that had attracted some attention and speculation. The newspaper interviewed different opinionated residents as to where they think the location should be. These articles generated a number of different rumors that seemed to take hold, taking the focus away from the Satterfield area location and pointing to the church farm south of town as well as the newly announced Northgate project. I am always amazed as to how different rumors start and spread so quickly within the Church, and even from the pulpit during a testimony meeting. Rumors were circulating that the Church had done soil testing that failed so they weren’t going to build in the Highland area, or that the site was too small. I am amazed as to how many people have an uncle’s cousin’s brother in law that works for the Temple department and spreads these rumors. In the end, I believe that the Lord uses situations like these to test us. I talked with many that had a firm faith that no matter where the Temple ended up, it would be a blessing.
During this time, we were working on the design of the second division of the Crestview Estates Subdivision where the 10 acre church parcel sat. After designing the subdivision around this parcel, the Presiding Bishopric of the Church expressed that they would prefer a grid style design as opposed to the proposed arched design. The new design would allow for those coming up Butte to be looking directly at the temple and Butte would end at the church property. This also required an additional 2 acres to accommodate the needed parking and building design. I agreed to donate the additional land to them and change our previously designed subdivision to accommodate the street design changes. In May and June of 2017 we were very busy with the Idaho Falls Temple open House and dedication. President Henry B. Eyring came to Pocatello for the cultural celebration and while in Pocatello he was seen walking the site above Satterfield Drive.
In the Winter of 2017/18 we processed the final plat for the Crestview Estates Division 2 Subdivision and received approval to begin construction on the streets. Winter stayed a little longer than we wanted but we were finally able to break ground in March of 2018 and we began to put in the street infrastructure that would surround and give access to the proposed site.
Back in 1997, the preliminary plat that was submitted for the church site included two new street names, Gordon and Thomas for the prophet and first counselor in the First Presidency. Since that plat was never finalized, those streets were never built. As part of our final plat request, we also made a request to change the name of Ray St. to Monson St. in honor of President Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet that announced the temple for Pocatello. The name change was approved by the Pocatello City Council without objection. President Monson passed away just prior to the time we began the subdivision improvements. Monson St. runs into Legacy Drive, a fitting intersection of names.
Design on the church site and building continued through this time, while we were working on installing the sewer, water, and streets. We were hoping to have the streets paved by the end of August, but construction delays put the project behind. We were still preparing the streets for asphalt when on September 6, 2018, 17 months from the time of the temple announcement, that the Church officially announced the site location. The Pocatello Temple site was then officially confirmed to be located above Satterfield Drive at the end of Butte St. in the Crestview Estates Division 2 Subdivision. Perhaps a surprise to some, but not to others. That day our construction site was inundated with minivans and suburbans full of curious church members wanting to see where the temple would be built.
Although it was the plan all along, the Church chose to keep the site location quiet, and we respected that desire as asked. Now, with the location being official, the Church must acquire certain permissions from the City for height of the building and lighting that is not consistent with residential zoning. I anticipate those requests will be approved, although there will likely be opposition related to traffic concerns, consistent with most temple building applications across the country. These concerns about traffic can be countered since a temple is not like a normal meeting house where traffic patterns show everyone arriving at once and leaving at once. Temples have small groups of worship throughout the day. This spread out form of worship reduces the impact of traffic in the area.
I am very glad that my father, Ken Satterfield, was able to hear the announcement of a temple in Pocatello. He is now 81 years old. He has always had a desire to have a temple of the Lord in Pocatello. He has worked diligently and faithfully for years on the concept and he accepted that the Lord had a plan and although His timing might not match our desire, my father knew the Lord was in charge. It has been a great blessing and a privilege for me to be involved in this wonderful project. The spiritual strength that enters an area when a temple is built is unmatched and I look forward to seeing the eternal effects it will have on all of us.