What used to be a parking lot is about to become a new city park in the heart of downtown Boise.
The Boise Parks & Recreation Department will add the downtown park plus another just west of Surprise Valley. Construction is planned for this summer. The city’s Parks & Rec Commission approved the two new parks at their end-of-January meeting.
The downtown project will create a park at the corner of 11th and Bannock Streets. The park will be located between the new 10-story office building currently under construction on Idaho Street and the Boise Plaza Building. It doesn’t have an official name yet, but the working name for the project is Westside Urban Park.
“We view this project as a place-making effort for the westside downtown neighborhood as well as an economic development strategy,” said Doug Woodruff, project manager for the park at the Capital City Development Corporation, the City of Boise’s partner in the development of the park. “We see this park as bringing in people and bringing in development that this area wouldn’t have normally seen.”
Boise-based developer Rafanelli & Nahas is the third partner in the creation of the new downtown park. The firm holds a 100-year lease for the property where the park will be sited.
“We’re giving up a lot of revenue, millions of dollars, by not having a parking lot in that location,” remarked Scott Schoenherr of Rafanelli & Nahas, “but that side of town needs some green space. We thought if there were a park in the middle of buildings that would make for a nicer area and add some open space, which the park would provide.”
The park will also be along one of Boise’s designated bikeways and will include bike-friendly features. It will also include a dry fog machine and urban artwork by Guggenheim Fellow Matthew Mazzotta.
The park just to the west of Surprise Valley will be on a 24-acre parcel donated to the city by Beth and Bruce Bowler in 1995. It is adjacent to Eagle Christian Church on S. Surprise Way. Half of the acreage is an undevelopable sagebrush steppe. The other 12 acres will become groomed park grounds with a simple design vetted by the local community.
“We held an open house on Sept. 25 to get public input on their likes and dislikes for park amenities,” said Toby Norton of Boise Parks & Recreation. “What people liked was a passive natural concept for the park, which preserved the open character it currently has.”
Parks & Recreation also consulted with Eagle Christian Church, with whom the department is partnering to share facilities between the two properties, including parking and pedestrian trail access.
The park will be named after the Bowlers. It will feature a dog park, a disc golf course, natural terrain gardens, natural terrain and tradition playgrounds, bocci ball courts and on-demand mister poles.
The Parks & Recreation Department has also added new software that is designed to be mobile device-friendly, which the previous software package was not. It was installed on Superbowl Sunday when use of the department’s webpages is historically low.
According to Bonnie Shelton of Parks & Recreation, the department is still ironing out some minor bugs, but the reservation system is up and working, including a feature that allows golfers to reserve tee times on the city’s public golf courses.