Ray Neef MD River Recreation Park

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The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation recently came forward with a major donation to the forthcoming Ray Neef MD River Recreation Park. Mayor Dave Bieter announced on Dec. 2 that the foundation had committed $750,000 to the Boise River project. To help keep the community donations rolling in, they've also promised to match any donations made before Feb. 1, 2011.

“The Ray Neef MD River Recreation Park is a rare opportunity to invest in a project that will have far-reaching benefits to our economy, our citizens and our environment,” said Jamie MacMillan, the executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation in a press release.

Boise City helped get the project started with an initial $750,000. They've pledged another $750,000 for the project, and with the $1.4 million from the Albertson Foundation (provided the contingent amount is met) they'll only be shy $450,000 for the rest of Phase I.

The recreation park is planned to become a major destination for river sports enthusiasts. With a rebuild of the Thurman Mill diversion, which helps control the flow of the Boise River, kayakers would have access to a prime spot for whitewater thrills. The spot is already popular—known as the "36th street wave"—but with the revamp would provide up to three separate waves that would be larger and more challenging (and fun).

All that whitewater means flocks of kayakers, and potentially watersports tournaments and events. The plan calls for seating alongside the quarter-mile stretch of river, and perhaps five more river features inserted to make the surface a little more challenging.

With this installation, the flow of water could be controlled to create mixed-use water features year-round, not just in the Spring. The cost for this first phase is estimated at $3.8 million—the project has already raised and spent $1.2 million.

Once this first phase is completed, they can look to more features in a second phase. The expansion of the project is contingent, according to the project's website, on how the Esther Simplot Park on the river pans out. As of now, the plan is awaiting new flood-plain data before it can move forward.

If everything goes off without a hitch, the 36th street section of the greenbelt could see itself host to thousands of spectators for watersports events, as well as more fisherman, park-goers and kayakers.



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