A driving route across Ann Morrison Park from Americana to Capitol boulevards could be in the future.
With input from some 1,500 residents, Boise Parks & Recreation has drawn up a basic concept to update Ann Morrison Park for 21st century sensibilities.
The first new master plan for Ann Morrison since the park opened in 1959 was revealed in draft form Nov. 16 at a public open house at the Boise Depot.
The 153-acre Ann Morrison will remain Ann Morrison, a park with largely open spaces with basically the same uses of sports and other recreation.
But the new master plan offers key improvements, such as building a new loop road for cars and bikes to get across the park from Americana to Capitol, redesigning the fountain to legitimize playing in the water, moving the parking away from the sports fields, and improving shore access for river floaters.
“People are interested,” said Tom Governale, superintendent of parks at Boise Parks & Recreation. “They want a voice in the future. People enjoy the semi-formal look of the Memorial Mall (entrance off Americana).”
Parks officials originally planned to recreate the mall with no trees, but public comments recommended keeping the mall tree-lined, what Governale terms the “semi-formal” look.
The fountain at the end of the mail will be lowered to grade level and will officially be deemed an “interactive water feature,” meaning people can play in the fountain, Governale said. The fountain now is elevated and marked “no trespassing,” though people do clamber up the wall to get wet.
The drawings are just concepts now, not actual designs, and estimated costs will be calculated in the coming month as Parks & Rec prepares to present the master plan to the City Council in mid-December, Governale said.
The new master plan also rethinks how tubers and rafters exit the river. Currently, water craft are just dragged up a deteriorating riverbank.
“We want to create a port for people to float in off the main river,” Governale said. “We want to provide more beach area.”
Alpenglow Mountainsport owner Chuck Cremer welcomes improvements to the boat landing arias. His company rents out 75 kayaks and inflatable kayaks and 20 rafts.
“I’d actually like to see a ramp of some kind that is not sand,” Cremer said. “As soon as you have sand, people are playing in the sand at the same time rafts are there. And we spend a lot of time cleaning rafts to get the sand out of them.”
The master plan calls for removing vehicle parking from the fringes of the soccer fields and relocating parking closer to the river and playground. Overall, Governale anticipates adding 30 parking spaces in the new configuration.
Along with maintaining the open space feel, Parks & Rec does propose adding seven or eight covered picnic shelters to the solitary picnic shelter now at Ann Morrison. Among the first projects that might be implemented is an upgrade of the restrooms, Governale said.
The plan calls for creating an off-leash dog area on Duck Island in the pond off Americana.
The master plan was devised by GGLO Design of Seattle, which brought on J.A. Brennan Associates of Seattle for the river feature designs.
The implementation of the master plan depends on finding new capital funding or fundraising, Governale said.
Boise Parks & Rec will be collaborating on funding with the Harry Morrison Family Foundation, which gave the park to the city of Boise and still retains grant deed restriction on the park and is involved in the master planning as stewards of the park, said Mark Daly, a foundation board member and great, great nephew of Ann Morrison.
The foundation anticipates giving some money as well as organizing fundraising events and public donations. Daly believes the funds can be raised to build out the master plan in three to five years.
Governale thinks it may take a bit longer.
“If the money is available, we could probably do it in five years,” Governale said. “Five to 10 years is probably reasonable. If the foundation can raise the money, that’s wonderful.”