The coming update of Ann Morrison Park will be a series of tweaks and not a total redesign, Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said.
The city will add new amenities and update some old ones, Holloway said. No one wants to take away its plentiful open space for playing sports, flying kites and other activities.
“We want to make sure we maintain the integrity of the park and what it stands for today,” Holloway said.
Leaders of the Harry W. Morrison Foundation are on board with that. The city is working closely with foundation members, many of whom belong to Ann Morrison’s family, on what they’re calling a “refresher” for the park, Holloway said.
“Obviously, it’s a legacy thing to them,” he said. “We want their engagement and interaction with the process all the way through.”
Built in 1959 and named for the first wife of Harry Morrison, who founded Boise-based heavy construction giant Morrison Knudsen Corp., the 153-acre Ann Morrison Park is the city’s largest. Ideas abound for what could be added, taken away or otherwise changed. Some of the most notable ideas include revamped entrances on the park’s east and west sides, a new fountain and reworking the clock tower.
It was just a community project. These rich industrial types like leaving beautiful memorials to their spouses. It's been a wonderful gift back to the city. And we just want to continue that tradition.
Mark Daly, on why Harry Morrison put so much of his own money and time into building Ann Morrison Park
Justin Wilkerson, president of the Morrison Foundation, thinks the park’s current layout hides what might be its best feature.
“There’s a lot of that river frontage that’s not being used,” Wilkerson said. “I mean, it’s mostly a lot of grass and vegetation, and things that are growing there. And there’s just a couple of spots where can people can get out.”
Seattle-based design firm GGLO won a $40,000 contract to help update Ann Morrison Park’s master plan. The Morrison Foundation and the city are splitting that cost. GGLO has plenty of experience in Boise, having worked on projects such as the future overhaul of City Hall Plaza, a small park at the corner of 5th and Idaho streets and The Afton, a condominium complex under construction between 8th, 9th, River and Fulton streets.
The fountain is ripe for some renovation, making it more useful so people can get in there and really just get wet during the summer.
Justin Wilkerson, president of the Harry W. Morrison Foundation
The park update has no budget range yet.
“That’s why you have a consultant — to look at what’s possible,” said Mark Daly, a foundation board member whose great-aunt was Ann Morrison. “I mean, you’ve got this wish list along this continuum of great ideas. But what’s feasible and affordable is part of that discussion.”
The city and foundation members say they want the public to help. GGLO will start outreach in July with open houses and other events, Holloway said. Additionally, the city will meet this month with event organizers and leaders of sports leagues who operate in the park.
After helping pay for the design, the foundation could also supply a grant to do the work, Daly said.
Holloway hopes to get the park’s new plan done early next year. There’s no timeline for construction of the improvements, which he said most likely will take place in phases.
Coming soon to Ann Morrison?
Here’s a quick sampling of ideas for improving Ann Morrison Park that the city of Boise, Harry W. Morrison Foundation and their consultant are talking about:
Fountain: City leaders worry that the 20-year-old fountain is a hazard. Children sometimes get in its concrete pool, which isn’t meant for swimming. The foundation’s president thinks it should be more inviting and useful, like a splash pad.
Clock tower: Some say the digital clock at the top of the tower doesn’t fit the park’s character. There’s some talk of putting an analog clock face in its place or, perhaps, even a sundial.
Entrances: Are they too hidden, particularly on the park’s east side? Would prominent gateways or arches improve them?
Roads, pathways: Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway thinks a new bike, car and pedestrian network is worth a look. He’d like to see better, more efficient connections throughout the park.
Parking: The current layout forces people to walk a long way to some of their activities. New parking locations could shorten those trips.
Shelters: Old Timer’s Shelter, the only one in the park, might be ready for a facelift. Holloway said another shelter or two —perhaps one in the park’s northwest corner — might be in order, too.
Piers: A couple piers would give water lovers new ways to be close to the Boise River, which runs all along the park’s north side.
Playground: No changes to the playground itself are likely, but Holloway thinks a few interactive features that connect it to the fountain plaza could make that stretch of ground more inviting.
Signs: Helping people use Ann Morrison’s many sports fields, disc golf course and other features starts with helping them find those amenities. Not much of that direction exists right now.
Ann Morrison and her park
Idaho native Ann Daly grew up in Boise and worked as a secretary at the Capitol.
In 1914, she married Morrison Knudsen Corp. founder Harry Morrison. She often visited the company’s construction projects and chronicled her experiences in the book “Those Were the Days.”
She died of leukemia in 1957. Shortly thereafter, Harry Morrison bought the land south of the Boise River between Capitol and Americana boulevards. Company workers turned the land into a park, which Morrison donated to the city on June 7, 1959.
Today, the park’s amenities include an outdoor gym, softball and soccer fields, a cricket field and courts for tennis, horseshoes and volleyball.