Boise is about to get another top-notch recreation facility — and an improved dog park — thanks to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.
“This isn’t, we’re planning to break ground in two years,” said Boise Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway. “We’re going as soon as we get the plans done and the permitting nailed down.”
A mountain bike skills park will be constructed at Military Reserve, located between Broadway Avenue and the Foothills. It will feature pump tracks, rollers and other elements to help cyclists of all ages and abilities build and improve their skills. The bike park will go on seven acres that now is used as an off-leash dog area — which really is just a muddy flood basin filled with thorns. “It’s a terrible dog park,” Holloway said.
The city council also approved $250,000 to build a new, improved dog park on the 3.7-acre basin just to the west of the bike park site. The dog park will require the archery range on the site to be relocated, hopefully somewhere within Military Reserve.
The cost of the bike park is still being determined, said Roger Quarles, the foundation’s executive director. “But I’ll tell you this: It will be world class,” Quarles said. “We don’t do anything half way. We’re all in on this. It’s going to be something really amazing.”
The city began internal discussions about creating a bike skills park about three years ago, but couldn’t find the funds with all the other capital projects the city has taken on in the past several years, Holloway says.
The foundation approached the department last year and an agreement was struck quickly. Boise City Council approved it on March 13.
Quarles said the idea started when people at the foundation became aware of Dylan Gradhandt and the Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League, a nationally affiliated group that organizes mountain bike teams at middle and high schools in the Treasure Valley.
“They work with kids and loan them bikes if they don’t have them,” Quarles said. “They’ve grown incredibly in the past few years so we saw a need and an opportunity to create what we know will be a great asset to the community and the state.”
The dog park hasn’t been designed yet, and the city will look for public input for park appearance and features for pets and their owners.
The whole area now has running water, so a brick-and-mortar bathroom will go in between the two parcels, replacing the orange portable bathrooms. Drinking fountains — for people and pooches — will be added.
The JKA foundation, created by Albertsons grocery store founders Joe and Kathryn Albertson in 1966, built a national reputation on funding education. In recent years, under Quarles’ leadership, it began to seek learning opportunities beyond schools that also highlight Idaho’s natural beauty and assets — as through outdoor recreation, he said.
The foundation supports the Boise Whitewater Park next to Esther Simplot Park. In 2016, the foundation put more than $1 million into renovating the city’s Rhodes Skate Park, located under The Connector along 16th Street. Designed in collaboration with the Boise Skate Board Association, it is now considered one of the best skate courses in the world, according to some of the top skaters in the world.
After the bike park is built, the foundation will turn the operation and ownership over to Boise’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
The design process
Alpine Bike Parks, a British Columbia-based company founded by former professional mountain biker Judd de Vall, is the go-to designer for these types of projects in the world.
It recently built the McLaren Bike Park in San Francisco, one of the projects Quarles looked at in developing this idea.
Alpine’s team will work with the foundation and the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association, Gradhandt’s Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League and the Boise Bicycle Project to create a park that fits Boise’s needs.
Once it’s established, the city will look for ways to connect the park to the current Ridges to Rivers trails, Holloway said.
The dog park also will go through the same community design process and be built by Alpine.
“That will offer a better flow and consistency in the process,” Holloway said. “If we can build the dog park first, we will, so we won’t displace the dog community while the bike park is being built.”
Boise is a bike town
There already are several major bicycle events that happen in Boise, including the Twilight Criterium road race in Downtown. This park will offer another opportunity for major cycling events to happen here and to build the recreational economy.
It also will help make Boise a little more bicycle friendly, said Jimmy Halliburton, founder of the bicycle project.
“We launched the Boise Bicycle Project in 2007 with a vision of transforming Boise into the ‘Bicycle Capital of America,’ ” Halliburton said. “Every once in a while, a rare opportunity unfolds to take a massive step closer to that vision and this partnership ... is more than a massive step, it’s a milestone.”
Want to weigh in?
A public meeting will be held April 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Dick Eardley Senior Center, 690 Robbins Road, Boise.
You can learn about both projects and share your ideas for the improved dog park and relocation of the archery range.