Right now, Esther Simplot Park isn't much more than mounds of gravel, shabby overgrowth and some puddle-filled parking lots.
By this time next year, the city hopes it will be a vibrant extension of the Boise River Park—where the popular kayak and surf wave is located near Quinn's Pond—with a meandering stream, paved pathways, bridges, stretches of grass and picnic shelters.
The first phase of construction, according to Boise Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Amy Stahl, is slated to begin in the next few weeks. To prepare for that, though, a section of the Greenbelt from Veterans Memorial Park to the 36th Street pedestrian bridge (which overlooks the whitewater park), will be closed through late 2015. The dirt parking lots that allow access to Quinn's Pond and the Boise River Park will also be closed.
"It's not the world's most convenient [option] and we recognize that," Stahl said. "But this will be a significant development for the future of the river park. It will provide a large space so we can reroute the Greenbelt and create vantage points of the river, and improve access for the public. It's an inconvenience for this year, but the benefits in the long term are tremendous."
The construction will include covering the Farmers Union Ditch Company's culvert and head gate, as well as the ditch itself. While breaking ground for the Esther Simplot Park, the construction will also begin developments on Phase II of the Boise River Park, which includes a half-mile of three waves with varying levels of difficulty, as well as terraced boulders along the shoreline for spectators. According to the Boise River Park website, the cost is estimated at $7.3 million, but the city is covering the costs of current construction to rebuild the canal.
As far as detours go, pedestrians will be instructed to cross the river and continue on the Garden City Greenbelt. A temporary parking lot for the river park and Quinn's Pond has opened at the former Bob Rice Ford car lot on Main Street.
This portion of the construction costs the city $850,000, with Boise-based contractor McMillen LLC, at the helm.