Overall, Boise’s park system was responsible for $587 million worth of taxable property value inside Boise city limits, and $854 million throughout Ada County, according to a study Boise State University professors Thomas Wuerzer and Jaap Vos presented Tuesday to the Boise City Council.
The additional property contributes an extra $4.7 million per year to the city’s coffers and $2.45 million to the county’s, .
That’s a conservative estimate, Vos said.
In their study, Wuerzer and Vos departed from predecessors’ estimates that living within 500 feet of a park increases the value of private property by 5 percent. The 500-foot, 5-percent estimate is simplistic, Vos and Wuerzer said, because it doesn’t take into account variables such as park types and the number of parks within convenient distance of them.
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The bigger the park, the farther its impact on private property values reaches, Vos and Wuerzer concluded. For example, a small neighborhood park’s impact on property value might decline quickly outside the 500-foot radius. Big regional parks — such as the Foothills, Ann Morrison Park and Julia Davis Park — positively impact the entire city, the professors say.
In fact, Vos told the council, the value of property immediately next to Boise’s largest parks shows something of a decline. Those values are higher slightly farther away from the big parks.
Another phenomenon Wuerzer and Vos report: Access is more important than distance. To put it another way, The distance someone has to travel to get to a park entrance is more important than how far they live from the land inside a park.
What the BSU report didn’t do was say that being within a certain distance of a certain park – or park type – adds a certain percentage of value to a house or business.
Vos said the study was years in the making. Its release comes at a convenient time for the Boise Parks and Recreation Department. After city voters approved a bond in November to pay for better stations and training facilities for the Fire Department, other departments in the city are lining up to convince the council to pay for improvements to things like police stations and libraries.
New and improved parks, especially in Northwest and Southwest Boise, are big priorities for Parks and Recreation. The council is also considering a major annexation of thousands of homes southwest of city boundaries. The value of parks to people who live just outside cities is one justification for forced annexation that cities often highlight.
Mayor David Bieter took notice.
“All your hunches about just having this here, around you, whether you’re in Boise or not, you get a heck of a bump out of it,” Bieter said Tuesday.