Following several years of easement, funding and construction, a 1.6-mile Greenbelt extension on the south side of the Boise River from the west end of Garden City to the West Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant opened to the public today.
“It has been a long-awaited dream that the Greenbelt would go all the way from Lucky Peak to Eagle Island State Park,” said Sharon Hubler, secretary of the Foundation for Ada/Canyon Trail Systems.
The extension overcame numerous hurdles, including fundraising and springtime floods. In fact, Judy Peavey-Derr, FACTS president and Republican candidate for District 17 state senator, spoke of vandalism issues during the surveying process.
“I don’t know how many times they surveyed this path,” Peavey-Derr said. “Every time they did, the kids in the community—I say kids, I don’t know—would come and tear out the survey pole.”
Funding for the Greenbelt extension was initiated in 2010 with a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The initial grant amount of $108,000 was later increased by 15 percent.
“That was really the impetus to get us going. Without that, we would not have been able to push off,” Hubler said.
Further donations aided in the completion of this extension, including the Treasure Valley Cycling Association’s contributions that helped fund the purchase of a heron rookery. Located on an island on the far side of the new extension, the rookery will remain a protected wildlife area.
“It is a cacophony of sound, like you have the full orchestra playing,” Hubler said of the rookery. “It really is kind of fun to be there.”
Including the purchase of the rookery, which cost $4,000, the Greenbelt extension tab was just over $160,000.
“Those were the costs directly attributable to construction,” Hubler said. “We had to spend a bit more for maintenance.”
With the high waters and flooding this spring, the original ribbon cutting had to be pushed back because of washouts during construction of the three bridges along the path.
At the rescheduled ribbon-cutting ceremony, Peavey-Derr gave thanks to those involved with the extension process before sending the dignitaries, including Eagle Mayor Jim Reynolds, on their way down the Greenbelt on bicycles supplied by George’s Cycles.
“We need to build in the public's mind the fact that this is a resource to be cared for and not to be misused,” Hubler said.