People rave about Boise, whether they live here or just come for a visit.
That enthusiasm shows up in everything from casual conversations to “best of” lists. But there are always outliers, and what they say about our city is sometimes more instructive — and funny — than the nonstop pro-Boise gushing.
The internet offers a platform for the enchanted and the aggrieved to sound off. Anyone can publish reviews of city parks, for example.
Do a basic Google search for just about any Boise park and a bunch of reviews will pop up. Typically, the bigger the park, the more reviews it has. For example, Ann Morrison Park, the largest in Boise, had 168 Google reviews as of Monday afternoon. Julia Davis Park had 145. Cassia Park, a small neighborhood park on the Bench, had only 34.
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For the most part, these reviews are positive. An average rating for a Boise park is around 4.5 stars out of 5. That makes sense. Parks are supposed to be enjoyable venues to escape from the grind of daily life. It makes sense that people would like them.
“Very hidden but beautiful place,” Google user “Ethan Griswold” wrote a month ago about Cassia Park. The review then adds what appears to be a smiley-face emoji and a chipper, quintessentially Boise note: “If you are reading this I hope you have a nice day!”
The majority of Google reviews on Boise parks express similar sentiments. There are exceptions, of course. And I hate saying it, but the outliers are more fun to read. They’re also more interesting, because similar complaints come up repeatedly.
Seeing people they assume are homeless is a big problem for some reviewers.
Here’s a review from Google user “The Anti Myth Rhythm Rock Shocker” on Ann Morrison Park: “My kids enjoy this playground, but I don’t like bringing them here because of the homeless and questionable folks in the area. One day over the summer months I was here with my children and witnessed a lower income family parking their minivan and making the oldest child clean it out. All the doors were open, trunk was open. Fast food garbage was strewed 10+ feet from the van and they were blaring 1980s hair metal. The Dad looked like he hadn’t bathed or done laundry in 2+ weeks. Very unsightly.
“Also, I’ve read about attempted kidnappings around here.”
Some will take exception to Anti Myth’s sentiment or point out some questionable assumptions, but he or she is hardly alone in complaining about people perceived as undesirable. “Homeless” was the most common among people who gave Ann Morrison
Several Ann Morrison reviewers mentioned homeless people and their related concerns about safety.
Goose poop was the biggest drawback for Julia Davis reviewers.
TripAdvisor user “peteh007” from Sacramento, Calif., really sets the tone for his rant with this title: “Boise really is a pretty Sad place.”
Sad with a capital “S”? Ouch. And it gets worse.
“There’s really not much going for poor old Boise. It’s a very right wing, conservative community and everything that goes along with that,” peteh007 writes before slamming pollution he attributes to car exhaust. “The smell is everywhere. Almost like Beijing.”
Actually, I’m not sure Pete (assuming that’s his real name) knows much about Boise. He apparently visited in the summer, when most of the air pollution probably came from wildfires, not cars. He criticizes the lack of trees in the city of, you know, trees. And he links that fault to Republican political ideology he assumes dominates a city whose elected officials are, in fact, almost all Democrats.
Then there’s his closer: “There is also very little topology. No hills. Just flat, hot, straight streets with dusty shops and lots of very, very cheap housing. I guess the key word for Boise is ‘Cheap.’”
Hey, it’s not for everybody.
There are a lot more examples out there, including one by an apparently disgruntled resident of an apartment complex. If you want to find some for yourself, just Google the name of a park and when the results come up, click on “Google reviews” on the right side of the screen. Then, open the “Sort by” drop-down menu on the upper right hand side of the reviews box and choose “Lowest score.”
Let us know which ones are your favorites and if you have your own gripes — or praise — about Boise’s gems.