Pocatello Idaho Temple
Planning and approval; awaiting official site announcement; groundbreaking not announcedAnnouncement: 2 April 2017
The Pocatello Idaho Temple is currently in the planning stages. No groundbreaking date has been announced.
Renderings of the Pocatello Idaho Temple and site plan have not yet been publicly released, as the temple is still in the design and planning stages.
The Pocatello Idaho Temple is expected to be a larger temple, according to an interview with Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Executive Director of the Temple Department. He pointed to the Meridian Idaho Temple as a recent example of a larger temple design.1
No site location has been officially announced for the Pocatello Idaho Temple. However, an 11-acre Church-owned parcel adjoining the stake center for the Pocatello Idaho Highland Stake is among the considerations. The east bench property offers a low-crime hillside location that is visible to travelers on I-15 and I-86. On April 6, 2017, four days after the announcement of the temple, this land was annexed into the City of Pocatello as part of a larger piece of land. On February 1, 2018, the Pocatello City Council approved a request to subdivide 28.73 acres of this property into a 10.94-acre Church-owned lot and 33 residential lots. A proposal to change the name of Ray Street to Monson Street was also approved. The Church has made no announcement as to how this 11-acre site will be developed.
On June 22, 2017, state approval of a new I-15 interchange to be built north of the city was announced. Although the Church does not appear to have land holdings in the area, some have speculated it may be a prime location for the temple, as it would provide good access from the interstate and arterial roads. The Northgate interchange at Siphon Road and Northgate Parkway (future) is expected to be built in 2018. Construction of a master-planned development east of the interchange will follow. The Northgate District will be built on 20,000 acres and feature new neighborhoods, parks, trails, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and a major technology park employing 6,000 people.2 A request to annex 300 acres of that land into the City of Pocatello was approved by the City Council on December 7, 2017.
A Church-owned welfare farm, located just south of Pocatello, has also been conjectured as a potential location. The parcel sits on the valley floor near the scenic Portneuf Gap surrounded by beautiful mountains, lava cliffs, and the Portneuf River. The property is easily accessible from the Portneuf exit off I-15 and would be visible to travelers entering or leaving Pocatello from the south. However, the site sits on the flood plain, and it has been recommended to be developed as an agricultural and recreational area with eco-friendly housing and a Pioneer Trading Post through the Portneuf River Vision Study.
Idaho's sixth temple, the Pocatello Idaho Temple, was announced by President Thomas S. Monson on April 2, 2017, in his opening remarks at the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference. There are five operating temples in the state including the Boise Idaho Temple, the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, the Rexburg Idaho Temple, Twin Falls Idaho Temple, and Meridian Idaho Temple. An extensive renovation project on the Idaho Falls temple, which reduced the temple's seating capacity, was rededicated on June 4, 2017. Idaho's newest temple in Meridian, located in the Boise metro area, was dedicated on November 19, 2017.3
There are approximately 450,000 members of the Church in Idaho—nearly a third of the state's population of 1.7 million people—organized into 129 stakes. There are 11 stakes in the Pocatello-Chubbuck metro area with another 11 stakes located in the surrounding communities of American Falls, Arimo, Blackfoot, Grace, Malad, McCammon, and Soda Springs.
In the 1930s, when Church leaders determined that the next Latter-day Saint temple would be constructed in Idaho, leaders from various stakes throughout the state urged that their respective communities be considered for the honor. Ezra Taft Benson, who was a counselor in the Boise Stake presidency, presented a particularly stirring argument for the state capital to be considered.4 In time, however, a hillside site was seriously investigated in the booming railroad town of Pocatello. The community's surrounding mountains made a beautiful setting for a temple in a city with excellent interstate transportation and a growing population—the second highest in the state. However, a depression-era economy had left the local government so poor, it would not pay to extend water and utilities to the west-bench location.5 In the meantime, the Chamber of Commerce in Idaho Falls, located 50 miles north of Pocatello, donated a prime parcel of land on the banks of the Snake River, bordering an LDS hospital. And that became the site of Idaho's first temple.
As the years passed, Pocatello experienced a series of economic setbacks, producing a local joke among members that the city was "cursed" for passing on the temple. Nevertheless, the hope never died for a House of the Lord to be constructed there. Decades after Idaho's first temple was constructed, a second temple was announced in 1982 for the state capital and largest city, the Boise Idaho Temple. In 1997, land on Pocatello's east bench was secured by the Church for the anticipated purpose of building a temple. However, it was the Rexburg Idaho Temple that was announced as Idaho's third in 2003, two years after the announcement that Ricks College would become Brigham Young University–Idaho. And months later, the Twin Falls Idaho Temple was announced to serve members in the more isolated South Central region of the state. Pocatello Saints patiently waited through the perennial speculations and rumors, which were even picked up by the local newspaper. In 2011, the Meridian Idaho Temple was announced as the fifth for the state to serve the rapidly growing Boise metro area. Other communities near Pocatello also received temples including the Brigham City Utah Temple and the Star Valley Wyoming Temple. The Saints of Pocatello rejoiced in each new temple, grateful that faithful Saints would be spared difficult travel.
In 2017, Pocatello's long-awaited dream took one step closer to reality. The city had been placed on a long list of potential temple locations produced by the Temple Department that was presented to the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. When Pocatello was mentioned, he stopped the presenters and said: "Pocatello will get a temple. The Saints there are well prepared, and it's time for them to have a temple."6 On April 2, 2017, President Monson himself made the announcement during the Sunday Morning Session of General Conference. Shouts of joy rang in living rooms throughout the valley, and tears of gratitude were shed. Pocatello would receive its temple.
The Pocatello Idaho Temple will be the sixth temple built in Idaho, following the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (1945), the Boise Idaho Temple (1984), the Rexburg Idaho Temple (2008), the Twin Falls Idaho Temple (2008), and the Meridian Idaho Temple (2017).
1. Nate Eaton, "EAST IDAHO NEWSMAKERS: Mormon Temple Dept. Executive Director Elder Larry Wilson," East Idaho News 30 Apr. 2017, 16 Jun. 2017 <https://www.eastidahonews.com/2017/04/east-idaho-newsmakers-mormon-temple-dept-executive-director-elder-larry-wilson/>.
2. Matt Davenport, "Northgate Planned Community Announced for Bannock County," KPVI 6 Sept. 2017, 14 Sept. 2017 <http://www.kpvi.com/news/local_news/northgate-planned-community-announced-for-bannock-county/article_6b97281a-9343-11e7-89a0-fb2fba3c2038.html>.
3. "President Monson Announces Five New Temples," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, 2 Apr. 2017.
4. Richard O. Cowan, Temples to Dot the Earth (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, Incorporated, 1997) 141–142.
5. Paul Menser, "Idaho Falls, Pocatello - Tale of the tape: Longtime rivals learning to cooperate," Post Register 21 Jul. 2002.
6. Chris Oswalt, "LDS church announced plans for Pocatello temple," Local News 8 2 Apr. 2017, 8 May 2017 <http://www.localnews8.com/news/pocatello/in-depth-lds-church-announced-plans-for-pocatello-temple/429595483>.