Boise River Park

The good news for Boise kayakers is work on the river park site is scheduled to start in March 2010. But the initial work is mostly streambank stabilization, widening of the greenbelt to accomodate the changes in traffic and use. The actual work on the river features isn't scheduled to start unitl next fall.

Phase I includes the area around the Thurman Mill Diversion, or as we know it, the 36th street wave. The Army Corps of Engineers permits for Phase I have been submitted. If they're approved, (and there is no reason they shouldn't be) the first step will be to draw down the water in Quinns Pond to begin filling in the corner nearest the diversion to accommodate the increased traffic flow. This draw-down will begin in March. Work on the corner of Quinns pond, and reinforcing the area for the new diversion will happen this spring. The fill being placed in Quinns pond will serve to reinforce the existing bank to support the new diversion and accommodate the re-routing of the Greenbelt in the area. Phase I also includes some amenities in the Simplot Park such as restrooms and parking. Phase II will include everything downstream from the 36th Street Wave.

The river feature will consist of a Wave Shaper, designed and to be built by the McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group of Denver, Colorado. This is the same company that built the Gutter in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho. The Gutter is one of ugliest features in the nation. Judging by their website the McLaughlin Group has improved the aesthetic end of their designs. But the result is what matters, right? There is little chance of any artificial river feature making the cover of Sunset Magazine.

The Wave shaper is basically a concrete flume that channels the water down a drop and into a pool with access eddies. The underwater lip can be adjusted for different flows and wave shapes. Since the Neef River Park is intended to be used for both play-boating and slalom practice and races, the wave shaper is ideally suited for changing the feature for different events or schedules. Plans include making the riverbank user friendly and the River Park board members say the design goes well beyond the concrete rip-rap and cyclone fencing that make the Gutter what it is. Hopefully it will be a little deeper as well.

The design for Phase II, is not complete. But in the grand plan, phase II is expected to have several more river features and be aesthetically tied into the Simplot Park. The downstream details depend upon a number of factors including the pending agreements with other irrigation districts, including Farmers Union Ditch Co. and Settlers Ditch. The ultimate design for the Esther Simplot Park will play into the final design of Phase II of the River Park. The Simplot Park design is waiting on a flood plain study, which is scheduled to be completed in January. The final Simplot Park report is due in April or May.

The Friends of the Park Board, is a volunteer organization working on the River Park. Board members are working with the Simplot family to integrate the River Park design and the Simplot Park design. The board is aiming to complete the design for Phase II by late Spring, 2010. Fundraising Work on the new Thurman Mill Diversion (36th st.) will begin next fall and is projected for completion in the spring of 2011.

This all hinges on the Park being able to raise another million or so in the next year. Currently, the Boise River Park has raised about $2.25 million in pledges. Mostly in the form of two giant donations: the pledge of $1,000,000 from the family of Ray Neef and another pledge of $750,000 from the City of Boise. In addition the Friends of the Park Board has gathered another $300,000 in pledges and gifts from other River Park supporters. The total for Phase I is roughly $3.3 million, leaving a $1 million fundraising goal for next fall in order to start construction on the acutal river feature. Another $3.4 million is needed by Fall 2011 for work to start on Phase II. The total for the whole project is $6.7 million. So besides hoping and praying for a river park your best efforts would be helping with fundraising.

For specific opportunities to get involved, including multiple year pledges, or gifts in honor or in memory of someone, they can contact Beth Markley, 208-484-4424. In addition there is a paypal donation button on the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands site and a on the Boise River Park site as well. Or you can send checks to: Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, 5657 Warm Springs Ave. Boise ID 83716 208-344-7141