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A River Doesn't Run Through It (Yet)

The Boise repair project was likened to re-creating a "layer cake" of huge granite slabs from a specific quarry in Finland.


When we last spoke to Josh Olson, the city of Boise's Cultural Asset Program manager, in November 2014, the winter winds were soon to blow, thus delaying the renovation of one of the highest profile pieces of public art in Idaho: "The River Sculpture" at the corner of Capitol Boulevard and Front Street.

Disrepair and wear-and-tear prevented the sculpture's lights and the misting system from working since 2009, and the city had to decide whether to repair the sculpture—commissioned in 1999—at considerable cost or rip it from its anchor in front of the Grove Hotel.

City officials opted to team up with the Capital City Development Corporation and hotel owners to share the nearly $200,000 in repair costs.

The project, which Olson likened to re-creating a "layer cake" of huge granite slabs from a specific quarry in Finland, was more involved than initially thought. When winter descended on Boise, the project was buttoned up with a promise the renovation would resume in the spring.

"We're trying to get back on track," said Olson. "Once you take a contractor off your schedule, you lose your place in line."

Another significant obstacle has surfaced on the project, though.

"When we uncovered the sculpture, we found some unexpected..." Olson took a long pause. "Let's call them unexpected conditions with the concrete and granite slabs. As a result we're looking for some additional funding to complete the project, so we're talking to our partners at CCDC and the Grove Hotel about that. And that, in turn, will adjust the schedule a bit further out."

When asked if the river would run—complete with mist and lights—this summer, Olson took another long pause.

"Well, I'm an optimist," Olson said. "I think it's a pretty good chance, but we'll let you know when we've greenlighted the project again."