The city of Boise plans to remove about 150 trees near the Boise River Greenbelt as it prepares to start construction on a $46 million upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant west of Veterans Memorial Parkway.
“The city of Boise does not take any tree removal lightly,” said Colin Hickman, spokesman for the Public Works Department.
The upgrade to the Lander Street treatment plant isn’t just displacing trees. It will also slightly shift the route to the Greenbelt from its access point on Lander Street. The path curves around the border of the 22-acre plant, running along the eastern edge of the Willow Lane athletic complex.
The Greenbelt will remain open throughout construction.
Some of the trees will be cleared to make way for an access road off of Veterans Memorial Parkway that will lead to the plant. Currently, trucks and employees must navigate Lander Street, a narrow residential road, to get to the plant. Neighbors pushed for a different route to the property during construction.
These upgrades are just the first phase of a 10-year upgrade on the Lander Street plant, which has not seen any major upgrades since it was built in 1948.
Today, the plant treats 10 to 13 million gallons of wastewater from Boise homes and businesses every day. Within five years, the Public Works Department expects that to increase to 17 million gallons.
Hickman said it was “too early” to know the cost of the remaining two phases. The city pays for the upgrades via sewage fees. Rates increased 9% last year.
“It’s important to the city that we stay at the forefront of treatment and technology processes,” Hickman said. Beyond adding in new technology, the upgrades will also replace outdated equipment.
“It’s a massive undertaking,” he said.
The city originally estimated that it would need to remove about 200 trees, but engineers were able to lower that number, he said.
“We’ve committed to replant at least one tree for every tree that has been removed,” Hickman said. A number of these younger trees will be replanted around the Greenbelt.
While the city did consider relocating the trees rather than chopping them down, arborists warned that, given the trees’ maturity and complex root systems, they had little chance of surviving a move.