Cost to clean up Boise’s Esther Simplot Park site increases

No contamination has reached the Boise River or underground water table from the site of the future Esther Simplot Park, city of Boise spokesman Mike Journee said.

“And we’ve looked really hard,” Journee said.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the estimated cost of cleaning up and removing the contamination has more than doubled — from $2.5 million to $5.5 million.

The Boise City Council voted Tuesday afternoon to pay an additional $1.5 million to clean up the petroleum contamination and other materials that include discarded concrete, rebar, a tractor and a car from the park site north of Pleasanton Avenue and west of Whitewater Park Boulevard.

That money will come from the city’s solid waste fund, an account that collects money from residents’ payments for garbage and recycling collection. The solid waste fund has about $2.2 million in it, Journee said.

The Simplot Foundation is contributing $1.5 million of its own money on top of footing the entire bill for the construction of the park.

That brings the total bill for remediation of the park site to $5.5 million. The City Council authorized the original $2.5 million in cleanup spending last month.

Journee said workers are pretty sure that’ll be enough money to see the cleanup done. He said crews believe they’ve hit the bottom of what appears to be a small industrial landfill.

Esther Simplot Park is named for the family matriarch, one of Boise’s most prominent philanthropist and arts benefactors. The foundation has not disclosed how much the construction of the park will cost.

“Their generosity is the driving force behind this park,” Journee said.

The cleanup is not expected to significantly delay the park’s opening, scheduled for spring 2016, Journee said.