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A Boise woman, frustrated by detours, created an app for navigating the Greenbelt

For Nannette Nelson, the Boise River Greenbelt is a thing of intrigue and, at times, a bit of a pain in the butt.

“I have always hung out on the Greenbelt myself,” said Nelson, a local entrepreneur and wellness coach. “I started riding up and down and seeing how much there was to do.”

But she was frustrated by construction projects, closures and detours along the path. Though Boise Department of Parks and Recreation has an interactive map of closures on its website, Nelson thought there was a better way to keep Greenbelt users in the know while they’re on the trail.

So she partnered with the Garrigan Lyman Group in Boise and began work last January to create the Boise River Greenbelt app. The app, which was released last week, is an Android- and iPhone-compatible program that features interactive maps of the Greenbelt, information on closures and detours, and directions to parks, restaurants and other nearby attractions. The maps cover the 25-mile pathway from Eagle out to Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Nelson’s app is not affiliated with the city, though she was able to use public Parks and Rec GIS information to help create some of the app’s maps.

“I’ve heard that many people have tried (to make a Greenbelt app),” said Nelson, whose boyfriend, Ben Witkowski, helped develop the app. “But it’s such a big project because it’s not static. It’s so dynamic, because the Greenbelt is dynamic.”

Nelson said the app, which is free to download, is currently in beta mode. She’s working to add content to several of the featured menus, such as family-friendly attractions and nature areas. Already the app offers suggestions on food and drink, parking areas, GreenBike stations and more. Witkowski is working to develop a tool to update the Greenbelt app in sync with Parks and Recreation’s event calendar.

“This is really about connecting the community to everything that’s going on,” Nelson said. “I didn’t know there was so much to do along the Greenbelt.”

Nelson said she anticipates the app will be out of beta mode by September — just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Greenbelt. In the next six months, she anticipates a premium version that allows users create a personal profile to mark their favorite places, take notes, time and compare routes, and share information with friends.

The app already has a handful of positive reviews in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. Nelson said she hopes to hear feedback from users on amenities to include or ways to improve. (You can submit feedback at boisegreenbelt.app.)

Nelson said the project has deepened her appreciation for the iconic Boise path.

“The Greenbelt serves every demographic,” she said. “It’s really fun to see how it connects us.”

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