Boise & Garden City

Have you been to Esther Simplot Park? Namesake says it displays J.R.’s spirit of fun

Esther Simplot and 'Boise, the City of Good Wives'

The woman for whom Boise's newest park was named said she was a bit nervous Wednesday about an event to dedicate the park, which drew hundreds to the city's West End.
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The woman for whom Boise's newest park was named said she was a bit nervous Wednesday about an event to dedicate the park, which drew hundreds to the city's West End.

Esther Simplot Park demanded a lot of work and money, but in the end Boise got the spectacular place its leaders dreamed of.

Located north of Quinn’s Pond between the Boise River and Whitewater Park Boulevard in Boise’s West End, the park covers 55 acres, much of which is a series of ponds where people can swim, fish or just play.

The J.R. Simplot Foundation, named for Idaho agriculture giant and husband of local arts benefactor Esther Simplot, covered most of the park’s cost — a figure the group has not made public. Construction started in early 2015. Shortly afterward, work hit a snag when crews excavating the site unearthed tons of industrial debris, including rebar, concrete, petroleum contamination and at least one car.

Mayor David Bieter, speaking Wednesday before a crowd of hundreds at the parks’ grand opening, said construction workers hauled away a total of 150,000 cubic yards of waste, enough to fill 8,000 large dump trucks. At the peak of the cleanup, waste was being hauled away at a rate of 45 trucks per hour.

The end result was a park that Esther Simplot herself said would make her late husband proud.

“I think Scott (Simplot, J.R.’s son) had that in mind with the architect when they designed it,” Esther Simplot said after Wednesday’s ceremony.

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