Boise to buy land for future Central Bench park

November 25, 2013 

The city of Boise has reached a tentative agreement with the Boise School District to pay $395,000 for three acres southwest of the corner of Franklin Road and Orchard Street.

The City Council and the district's board of trustees have to approve the deal before it can go through. The district is scheduled to consider it Dec. 9, and the council will do the same Dec. 10. The deal is expected to be finalized sometime in January.

The property is part of the former Franklin Elementary School site. For years, people who live in the neighborhood have urged the city to buy some of the land and develop it as a park. According to this deal, the city would buy the interior of the property — the part that doesn't include frontage to Orchard Street or Franklin Road. Boise would then have a six-month option to buy the 4.74 acres of frontage property for $1.24 million.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said the city would use that time to look for a nonprofit organization or business whose activities complement a neighborhood park to occupy the frontage ground. If the six months pass and the city can't find such a partner, ownership of the frontage ground would remain with the district. If the deal is finalized, Boise Parks and Recreation will go through a master planning process to gather feedback from neighbors about possible park amenities. Neighborhood park amenities could include open space, a playground, picnic shelter, restroom, walking path and community garden, according to a city news release. A bond measure that voters defeated Nov. 5 would have provided $760,000 to develop a park at Franklin and Orchard.

Holloway said there's no time frame for developing the park. He said he hopes the City Council can free up enough money soon to pay for at least a "green-up," which includes installation of an irrigation system, grass, parking and pathways. That would cost between $300,000 and $350,000, Holloway said.

"You can't develop what you don't own," he said.


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