Thanks to warmer winter weather conducive to construction, the first phase of the much-anticipated Boise River Park is right on schedule. And the best news: Park officials say they plan to informally open this phase to the public in April if spring water runoffs permit.
All of the work, including a diversion dam replacement, two wave-shaper mechanisms, bank stabilization and seating area, is anticipated to be complete by the end of March, said Tom Governale, superintendent of parks for the city.
The five-month construction period that started in October, after a long permitting process, also included a relocated Greenbelt path, viewing plaza, irrigation infrastructure, head gate upgrade for the Thurman Mill diversion and control building. The landscaping is slated for installation in May.
"Staff anticipates the current phase to informally open for use in April (pending spring water run off flows), with an official dedication sometime in May or June," Governale said. "The park may need to be closed for a brief period, possibly one week, when landscape is being installed in May."
The park site—west of downtown Boise between Main Street and Veteran’s Memorial Park—is part of a larger planned River Park Complex. The rest of the complex, the Esther Simplot Park and Bernardine Quinns Park, is expected to take another two years. Pending final design, engineering and permits, construction of the Esther Simplot Park could begin in the next year. That work includes parking, roadways, restrooms/change rooms and additional path access for the River Park.
Because these major support facilities won't be in place until the Esther Simplot Park is done, the park won't be available for special or major events until then, GovernaIe said. If all goes well with the final design, engineering and permits, Esther Simplot construction could be done in two years.
The Boise River Park has it own website and recently posted a video by filmmaker Skip Armstrong featuring world champion kayaker Eric Johnson talking about the park.
"Having access to a whitewater park right in town, one of the things that does is, it allows kids access to kayaking. I don't know any better outdoor activity ... for channelizing a lot of energy the youth has in a positive way," Johnson said. "... One common denominator with whitewater parks, especially one that's in or around a town, is that it makes the sport of whitewater kayaking accessible to a lot of people—both for participants but also for people to come check out the event themselves."
The next phase of the River Park, if approved, will be constructed in the area of the Farmers Union-Boise Valley diversion, approximately 300 yards downstream of the current phase.
"City staff is currently talking with Farmers Union and Boise Valley Canal Co. representatives regarding diversion upgrade and future park phase design and construction," Governale said. "Future development will depend on talks with the canal companies and fund raising."