Boise & Garden City

Public likes off-leash island, more river access for Ann Morrison Park update

Take a ride on the new Boise Greenbelt path

The newest section of the Boise River Greenbelt has officially opened. Crews have finished striping the path where the Boise River Greenbelt passes under roads between Joe's Crab Shack and the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park.
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The newest section of the Boise River Greenbelt has officially opened. Crews have finished striping the path where the Boise River Greenbelt passes under roads between Joe's Crab Shack and the northwest corner of Ann Morrison Park.

More than 1,500 public responses formed a consensus about the future of Ann Morrison Park that mirrors the conclusion Boise Parks and Recreation Department staffers reached on their own, Doug Holloway said.

On both the public and internal sides, the favorite option is one that envisions the most expansive series of access points at the Boise River, and turning “Duck Island” in the park’s southwest corner into a fenced dog off-leash area, said Holloway, director of Parks and Recreation.

Public responses came to the city through online notes and four events — a public walk-through in August that consultant GGLO guided, a public meeting in September and two open houses.

Take a ride over Boise's famous fountain.

The favorite option is one of three that GGLO proposed after the city hired the company to update the master plan for Ann Morrison Park. All three options show some kind of reworking of the island, which has become a minefield of geese and their feces; a new and more interactive fountain in the middle of the park; and a pathway that connects the south side of the park to Crescent Rim Drive above it.

Those were all popular features, Holloway said. But the fact that one option essentially converts the island into a year-round dog park with a shoreline resonated with the public, he said.

We have found the most effective way of controlling the geese population in our parks is with dogs.

Boise Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway

“Not only the public that wants dog off-leash, but the public that may not be that interested in dog off-leash saw that as a way to segregate the dogs off-leash from the other general park users,” he said. “And we also agree with that.”

Ann Morrison Park was built in 1959 and hasn’t been renovated since then. Both the city and members of Ann Morrison’s family are keen to improve its amenities, including entrances, the fountain, the clock tower, the Old Timer’s shelter and sports fields.

Sometime in the next few months, Holloway said, the department will present the preferred option to the Parks and Recreation Commission. In most cases, that would be enough. But this is Ann Morrison Park, the biggest in Boise and one of the most heavily used. Holloway said the department likely will ask for the City Council’s blessing before moving forward with the master plan update.

The City Council heard an update on the project Oct. 11. At that meeting, Mayor Dave Bieter said one of the most common pleas he’d heard from the public was for a more clear system of roads into, through and out of the park.

The City of Boise's 10th Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration was held at Ann Morrison Park in Boise, Idaho.

Assuming no unforeseen obstacles, the first improvements could start appearing in a few years. The complete renovation likely will take a decade or more, depending on money.

Holloway said Parks and Recreation might dip into its repair and maintenance budget to pay for some of the smaller items, such as paths, roads and river bank repairs. But the city likely won’t shell out taxpayer dollars for the bigger features.

“This is a long-term project,” he said. “No general fund money is being allocated to this. We will be looking at partnerships and contributions and donations.”

Ride with Boise pilot Randy Ashton, who launched with 30 other balloons in the 25th annual Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic in 2016. Balloons will fly throughout the weekend, launching from Ann Morrison Park. Ashton's balloon is called "Damnit Irvi

Want to comment?

The comment period closed Oct. 7. But the city parks department will hold another open house in early December and accept online comments again then.

Who was Ann Morrison?

An Idaho native, Ann Daly was born in 1884 and reared in the Boise Basin gold mining district. She moved with her family to Boise where she graduated from high school, studied shorthand and became a secretary at the Capitol.

In February 1914, Ann met Harry Morrison, founder of the Morrison Knudsen Co., at a dinner party. While still in their 20s, Harry and Ann had a whirlwind courtship and married in December 1914. Even before they married, Ann visited construction projects. She established her role in the young firm first as bookkeeper and later writing her recollections. Ann remained active in the company and was Harry’s constant companion for 43 years. She died of leukemia in October 1957.

Early in 1958, Harry Morrison met with Boise Mayor Russell Elmer Edlefsen about his plan to acquire land, develop a park in memory of his late wife and deed it to the city. Already in his 70s, he set the dedication date for his new park as June 7, 1959.

Harry turned the project over to a handful of veteran MK project managers. MK crews planted more than 2,000 trees and shrubs, 30,000 small shrubs and perennials, and 20,000 annual flowers and plants. About 2.5 tons of grass seed greened the 153-acre park watered by two deep wells and 21 miles of underground sprinkler lines. Consistent with MK’s reputation for project management and timely completion, Ann Morrison Park was ready for visitors in 10 months at a total cost of $1.25 million.

Source: City of Boise

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