More rapids and an island for dogs: Boise Parks and Rec’s plans for outdoor fun in 2019

By this time next year, Rover will have more room to run in Boise, and you’ll be able to take on even more rapids along the Boise River’s whitewater park.

According to Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway, 2019 is shaping up to be a busy year for the department. September will see the 50th anniversary of the Greenbelt, a new dog park is in the works and the second phase of the Boise Whitewater Park will wrap up, too. Here’s what to expect.

Dog Island: An off-leash dog park in the southwest corner of Ann Morrison Park has been in the works since late 2016. In February 2018, Parks and Rec secured $100,000 in donations from Together Treasure Valley, which the Idaho Statesman is a member of, and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation for the $440,000 project.

Holloway told the Statesman last week the department is soliciting bids to dredge the pond around the “island” — the first time that will have ever been done. The dog park will feature separate areas for small and large dogs, as well as water fountains, shelters and a dog beach. Holloway said the land will likely be covered in sand, which is easier to maintain and clean up after the dogs. He said the project will likely be ready in late spring 2019.


Gene Harris Bandshell: The historic performance space in Julia Davis Park caught fire in April 2018, resulting in significant damage. Preliminary repairs were underway last summer, and Holloway said an architect is currently working on a design to repair the remainder of the structure.

He expects the space will be out of commission for most of the summer. When it returns, it could have additional amenities, including an upgraded sound system, shade for viewers and improved backstage space for performers. Expect it to be complete in late summer or fall.

Phase II of the Boise Whitewater Park: The first phase of the Boise River park has been a huge hit with surfers, kayakers and even spectators, Holloway said. The second phase is on track, with construction crews currently diverting water about 25 yards downriver from the existing wave-forming structure.

Expect three additional wave features, as well as a rock formation (created from real boulders) that will create even more rapids. The structures, to be placed about 25 to 50 yards apart, will allow users to put into the river near Phase I and navigate the rapids before circling back through Esther Simplot Park ponds and into Quinn’s Pond, back near the start. Holloway said it will be “an aquatic complex” that includes spectator seating and Greenbelt paths along both sides of the river between Esther Simplot Park and Veterans Park Pond.

“It’s kind of almost two parks in one,” Holloway said.

He said the second phase of the park should be functional by mid- to late summer.

Whitewater Park Phase 2 NEW
This map shows the Boise whitewater park’s second phase. Garden City is at the top. The wave shapers are deep blue, with the 5-year-old first one at far left. Provided by city of Boise

Greenbelt repairs and a big anniversary: Holloway said September marks the 50th anniversary of the popular riverside path. Parks and Recreation also has several repairs planned for the Greenbelt during 2019. Find a list and interactive map of upcoming projects here.

Currently, part the Greenbelt is closed between Esther Simplot and Veterans Memorial parks for construction on the Boise Whitewater Park. Holloway said construction plans include extending a concrete Greenbelt section on the east side of the Boise River for bicyclists. The asphalt stretch on the west side of the river will remain in place.

More parks: Construction is currently on hold at Sterling Park, near Mitchell and Irving streets, but will resume in 2019 as the weather warms up. Holloway said things should be finalized around summertime.

Parks and Rec expects to begin construction in the fall on another Ribbon of Jewels park off of South Eckert Road in Southeast Boise. Alta Harris Park will include a wetland, pollinator garden, bocce ball courts and more, according to a master plan. The park will likely open in 2020.

Plans will move forward for a bike skills park and improved dog park at Military Reserve. Parks and Rec gave the final go-ahead on the park in November after several divided public meetings. The plan will include the relocation of the existing archery range near the Military Reserve trails.

military reserve parks 2.JPG
After months of back-and-forth at City Hall, the Boise Parks and Recreation Commission has approved a bike skills park and dog park in the Military Reserve recreation area northeast of Downtown. The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation will pay for the bike park. Provided by city of Boise

X Games: The X Games will return to Boise once more in 2019. For the last two years, the skateboard and BMX qualifier has been held at Rhodes Skate Park in Boise, drawing huge crowds. The X Games schedule hasn’t been finalized, but the event has previously taken place in June.

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