Esther Simplot Park officially opens

by Rae Brooks
ribbon-cutting

Before a crowd of hundreds, and to the strains of the Boise High School marching band, Esther Simplot used a giant pair of scissors yesterday to cut a ribbon to officially open the new park along the Boise River that bears her name.

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Esther Simplot

Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg called the 55-acre Esther Simplot Park the newest in Boise’s “ribbon of jewels” along the Boise River. The city now has 350 acres of parks along the river, matched by 26 miles of Greenbelt path on each side.

“Esther Simplot is going to be the one that connects us to the water,” said Clegg. She called the park “a new place in the West End” and wondered if it might become “too popular.” Under sunny skies, canoeists and paddle-boards were already enjoying the new Esther’s Pond behind her.

Construction of the multi-million-dollar park began in February 2015. The Simplot family foundation, which footed the construction bill, has not released figures, but Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said the city had previously estimated building costs at $11 to $12 million.
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Boise Mayor Dave Bieter told the crowd that Esther Simplot is likely to be the last park built along the Boise River in the city’s urban core. The new park, he said, has one and a half miles of paths, 630 newly planted trees and 4,000 tons of boulders imported from a ranch in Weiser, Idaho.

“For divers,” he added, “there’s a car, a van and a boat at the bottom of the pond. These are the ones we wanted there, not the ones we didn’t.”

Old vehicles were among the contaminated materials discovered during park excavation. Park builders removed 150,000 cubic yards of petroleum-laced soil and other debris. At the peak of the operation, 45 large dumptrucks an hour were carting off loads to the landfill.

The added removal costs put the park’s design at risk. But the city came up with $4 million for the cleanup, while the Simplot family foundation added an additional $1.5 million.

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Scott Simplot

Bieter called the construction of Esther Simplot Park “the toughest project I’ve been involved in in 13 years as mayor.”

Scott Simplot, youngest son of the late J.R. Simplot, told the crowd that the Simplot family wanted the park to harken back to an old-fashioned swimming hole. He recalled fondly how, while growing up in Boise, he would shinny up a tree hanging over a pond, tie a rope to a branch, then climb back down and swing out on the rope into the water.

“I don’t know what we’ll do when one of these trees grows over the pond,” he said. “Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have the world’s greatest swimming hole.”

At Whittier Elementary: Idaho Food Bank and Artistic Pumpkin Auction

Idaho Food Bank distributing food at Whittier Elementary School

The Idaho Food Bank will be working in collaboration with the Whittier Communities School. They will be coming to Whittier (301 N 29th St, Boise, ID 83702) the 3rd Thursday of every month for approximately one hour after school (4pm-5pm). On Thursday, October 20th, the Idaho Food Bank will be distributing food at a later time 5:30pm-6:30pm to coincide with Math Night being held at the school.

Whittier Elementary Auctioning Artistic Pumpkins to Raise Funds

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Whittier Elementary School is auctioning off festive painted pumpkins to raise funds to send students to McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in the spring. Bids can be placed on 10 decorated pumpkins at the school main office during school hours until Monday, 10/24.

Public meetings on Moore St project

There are two public meetings coming up where the VPNA will likely testify on the Moore St project. The first is the ACHD Commission meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday July 27 at 6pm. The ACHD will decide whether it will allow an extension of 32nd St to Whitewater Park Blvd. The second is a meeting of City of Boise Planning and Zoning this Monday, August 1 at 6pm. City of Boise P & Z will decide whether to approve or deny the project. If it is approved, it will be sent to the Boise City Council for approval. Individuals can also testify at both meetings. Please arrive a few minutes early if you’d like to sign up to testify.

Fairview Park potluck & swing fundraiser – this Tuesday evening

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We are hosting a potluck at Fairview Park this Tuesday evening at 6pm! Please bring a dish and/or a donation for our new swing if you can. The City of Boise has given us almost $50,000 in a grant to install 2 Biggo swings and provide limited electricity access in Fairview Park. Thanks to a generous $250 matching grant from Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Trademark Church, we just need to raise $250. Any donation ($5, 10, 20, etc) helps. Thank you!

Location change – July 25 meeting

A special VPNA meeting will take place Monday, July 25 at 6:30 pm at Davis Park Apartments multi-purpose room. Board members will discuss the VPNA’s input to the Planning and Zoning meeting regarding a proposed 50-unit development on Moore St.

Robert Reed from Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, the organization proposing the development, will present at the beginning of the meeting.

Please note the new location. This is our normal board meeting location.

Free Programming Opportunity for VPNA Middle Schoolers


ZeroRobotics_Flyer_Different2

ZeroRobotics_Flyer_Different22There is a free programming opportunity for VPNA middle school students this summer. Participants will learn how to control satellites aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Some code will actually be tested on the ISS! The program is offered through Idaho Afterschool Network, NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and NeighborWorks Boise. It runs July 5 – August 5 at Davis Park Apartments. Please contact Danielle Falck, dfalck@nwboise.org if you are interested and spread the word to your neighbors!

23rd St Survey

img002Please take a moment to let ACHD know whether you support adding bike lanes to 23rd between State and Main streets, which will require removing parking on one side of the street. You’ll have an opportunity to add general comments so you can let them know you support their efforts to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety infrastructure in our neighborhood. Complete the ACHD survey at bit.ly/23Street before the June 29 deadline. The survey is just 2 short questions. Thanks!

Ideas (and help) wanted

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2016 Boise neighborhood grants news story

Do you have a great idea for a project in the VPNA? Every year the City of Boise gives out grants for hundreds of thousands of dollars to neighborhood associations for a variety of neighborhood improvement projects. Last year the VPNA was awarded 2 grants, one for neighborhood outreach that funds our newsletter, and another large grant to put swings and limited electricity access in Fairview Park. We are currently looking for ideas and volunteers to apply for grants again in the next few months. What would you like to see in your neighborhood? Some ideas we are currently thinking about are: new playground equipment for Whittier elementary, adding/improving street lights, a bicycle maintenance station, an accessible path around a pond, or West End signs.