An assortment of birds already have taken up residence in this new park, tucked along the north bank of the Boise River in the Barber Valley.
The park officially opens Monday with a celebration commemorating the 72-acre donation of land by businessman Larry Williams in honor of his wife, Marianne.
The $6.4 million Marianne Williams Park features two ponds, 1.8 miles of paved paths, a large grassy area, a picnic shelter, gazebo and restrooms.
Similar to Kathryn Albertson Park, it offers a more natural experience. Instead of sports fields and playgrounds, it features winding pathways and plenty of benches upon which to sit and ponder the park, its wildlife and its views of the Foothills.
A new section of the Greenbelt traverses the park's south side along the river. The park includes the Dallas Harris Memorial Walkway along the river. Within the park, dogs and bicycles are restricted to the Greenbelt; other paved paths are for pedestrians only.
Williams donated the land to the city in 2005 with the agreement the park be developed within five years. The struggling economy slowed progress and Williams agreed to an extension. The city paid for the park with impact fees - generated by new home construction - and private donations.
Larry Williams developed an appreciation for the city's park system when he moved to Boise from Midvale in 1966. "We had two young children and very little money," Williams said. "One of the things we valued about Boise was its wonderful parks. The great thing about Boise parks is that you can spend a lot of time with your family without any cost, which at the time was something we appreciated very much."
FUTURE PARK ADDITIONS
When the city has more money, it will complete the park's final phase - park entry signs, fishing docks, a second parking lot near the East ParkCenter bridge and a vehicle bridge over Walling Creek near the new fire station.
THE BARBER VALLEY
In the early 1900s, the town of Barber was the second-largest city in Ada County with 650 people.
Located in the verdant Barber Valley east of Boise, the company mill town developed in conjunction with the Barber Lumber Co. In 1935, the mill shut down, the town was torn down and many of the homes were moved to Boise.
For the next several decades, the valley was home to more cattle than people. That changed about a decade ago, when the Harris family announced development plans.
Since then, several hundred homes have gone up in the valley along with two schools and some commercial development. In addition to Marianne Williams Park, which is on the site of the former Barber Mill lumber operation, the area includes the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and the 21-acre undeveloped Alta Harris Park. Bown Crossing and Barber Park are just across the river.
FROM MIDVALE TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY
The Williamses were introduced to the Barber Valley by their friends, Dallas and Alta Harris.
A fourth-generation Idahoan, Marianne (Fairchild) Williams grew up ranching and working on the family farm in Midvale. She grew up with Larry Williams, a fifth-generation Midvale resident, and they married in 1962. They have three children: Cari Meyer, Cris Williams and Cory Williams.
Marianne Williams has played an integral role in several businesses founded with her husband. They created the Idaho Timber Corp. in 1970 and acquired Barber Valley land for some of its operations.
Together they have supported collegiate athletics at Boise State University and served on the Bronco Athletic Association board. Along with the Caven family, they pledged $3 million to the Caven-Williams Sports Complex and $5 million to the latest Bronco Stadium expansion project. Their names are on the Larry and Marianne Williams Plaza in front of the stadium's Allen Noble Hall of Fame Gallery.
The Williamses also raise cattle and racehorses at their Tree Top Ranch outside Parma. Last year, one of their thoroughbreds, Rousing Sermon, finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby.
'RIBBON OF JEWELS'
The ribbon is made of up seven parks along the Boise River that celebrate prominent women in Boise history - from pioneers to contemporary philanthropists.
The parks are connected by the Greenbelt and cover 457 acres - nearly a fourth of all city parkland. Four are complete; three are in development.
Julia McCrumb Davis was one of Boise's first pioneers, arriving from Ontario, Canada, in 1869. She married Thomas Jefferson Davis in 1871. She worked side by side with her husband farming and ranching until her death in 1907. Created in 1907 as Boise's first public park, the 89-acre site is the cultural, historic and artistic gateway to the heart of the city. Within the park are Zoo Boise, museums, gardens, lagoons, a playground, tennis courts, a rose garden and band shell.
Anna Daly grew up in the Idaho mountains, moving to Boise at 16. In 1914, she married Harry W. Morrison, founder of famed construction company Morrison Knudsen Corp. She traveled extensively and was known for her great civic interests and friendliness. She died in 1957. Created in 1959, Ann Morrison Park is the city's largest at 153 acres. It has a reflecting pool and water cascading from an illuminated spray fountain, along with gardens, a playground, tennis courts, lighted softball diamonds, soccer and football fields, disc golf course and a picnic pavilion.
Kathryn McCurry Albertson and her husband, Joe, the grocery store pioneer, created the philanthropic J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation in 1966. They met at the College of Idaho. She died in 2002. The 41-acre park dedicated in 1989 is designed to be an inner-city sanctuary for resident and migratory wildlife. It has foot paths, outdoor gazebos and a fountain.
A native of La Crosse, Wis., Bernardine "BeeBee" Schilling moved to Boise in 1910 and graduated from what is now Bishop Kelly High School. She married the founder of the Quinn Robbins heavy construction company. She was active in the community and died in 1994. Created in 1997 on the site of a former gravel operation, the partially developed 27-acre park is dominated by 22-acre Quinn's Pond with its three docks. Future amenities include a beach area, picnic area and a waterway connecting to the Esther Simplot Park pond.
Synonymous with the performing arts in Boise since moving to Idaho in 1972, the wife of late industrialist J. R. Simplot co-founded the Boise Opera Company and built the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy and the Academy Annex. The undeveloped 55-acre park created in 2003 includes 17 acres of ponds and 8.9 acres of natural areas next to the new river recreation park. Plans call for fishing ponds, a playground, picnic areas and sports fields. Construction is set to begin in 2014.
Alta Harris Park
In 1950, Dallas and Alta Harris relocated their Boise County sawmill to the Barber Valley. They began acquiring additional land and set up a ranching operation raising Hereford cattle. The family matriarch died in 2012. The real estate development Harris Ranch takes its name from the family enterprise. In 2008, the family donated 21 acres along the river for a city park in Harris Ranch. Once the city has the money, the park will include sports fields, walking paths and a plaza.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell