Boise whitewater park gets key gift from Albertsons

From the Idaho Statesman 4/6/2011

BY CYNTHIA SEWELL – cmsewell@idahostatesman.com

By this time next year, river rats should be cavorting in the city’s new whitewater park.

Without the $950,000 infusion from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, the city might have missed the narrow window to do the in-river construction work this fall and winter, which would have delayed the project another year.

“It is very gratifying to see visions like this one become reality,” said J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation executive director Jamie MacMillan.

The donation brings the foundation’s total gift to the city’s Ray Neef MD Boise River Recreation Park to $1.7 million, more than half of the estimated $2.8 million cost for the project’s initial work.

This fall, after river and irrigation canal water levels drop, crews will demolish the aging Thurman Mill diversion dam and replace it with a state-of-the-art computerized diversion dam and two “wave shapers” — features that will provide boaters waves of varying difficulty year-round. Water features also will include in-river drops, chutes and boulder obstacles as well as riverbank seating.

Construction on the first set of planned river features should be complete by spring 2012.

So far, $1.2 million worth of design, engineering and site preparation work has been done. The city of Boise has allocated $850,000.

In addition to the Albertson Foundation’s gifts, the Friends of the Park, an organization of boating enthusiasts and civic leaders, has raised almost $1 million in cash and pledges.

The river recreation park, located upstream of Veterans Memorial Park, is one of the central elements of the city’s new plan for the larger 30th Street area. Other upcoming improvements include a new 30th Street extension and two additional riverside parks — the Esther Simplot and Bernardine Quinn parks.

The new 36th Street footbridge at the whitewater park connects to Garden City’s waterfront district and is already receiving a lot of foot and bike traffic, according to Idaho River Sports co-owner Jo Cassin.

In 2005, Cassin and partner Stan Kolby moved their business from Hyde Park to 3100 W. Pleasanton Ave., to be closer to the Boise River and the river recreation park.

“This section of the city is going to be absolutely beautiful,” said Kolby.
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