Boise & Garden City

This businessman wants to honor his wife with a park on Warm Springs Avenue

Esther Simplot reflects on the park that bears her name

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Aaron Howell wanted a way to make Boise a better place and honor his wife at the same time.

So Howell, who’s president of Northwest Lineman College in Meridian, bought eight acres at the eastern end of Warm Springs Avenue between the Boise River Greenbelt and the road. He told Boise Parks and Recreation about a year ago he wanted to donate the land to the city of Boise.

He wants the city to develop the land as a park and name it Sue Howell Park, after his wife, Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said.

“They are very humble people. I don’t know how excited she is having her name on a park,” Holloway said. “Aaron just wants to do something very special for his wife.”

Howell would follow in a long-standing Boise tradition of naming parks after women, many of whom were matriarchs of the city’s most prominent families or wives of local businessmen. Examples include Ann Morrison, Julia Davis, Esther Simplot and Kathryn Albertson parks.

The donation is a complicated procedure and could take a while to finalize. The land Howell bought is outside city limits, so Boise couldn’t accept it right away, Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway said.

Parks and Recreation helped work out a solution. Three other landowners — Suez, the local water company; Idaho Transportation Department; and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management — gave Boise consent to annex an additional 44 acres that connect Howell’s land to the edge of city limits.

The City Council approved the annexation Tuesday. Within a month or so, barring some obstacle, the annexation should be finalized. After that, Howell and the city will work out details of the land donation, Holloway said. Once the land is in Boise’s possession, he said, Parks and Recreation will begin designing the park — a process that will take months.

Parks and Recreation has worked up a rough concept for amenities that focus on fitness — an emphasis for Sue Howell, Holloway said. But the concept isn’t final. The department has no firm plan for what the park ultimately will look like.

Holloway said Howell might help raise money to pay for the park’s initial greening up, which typically includes planting grass, installing an irrigation system and construction of a parking lot.

Between fundraising, working out the donation particulars and design, there are too many variables to know when development of the park will begin, Holloway said. Also unknown is how much the park’s development will cost.

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