Esther Simplot Park Planning Begins

On June 8, 2011 VPNA board members Katie Hartman (Pleasanton) and Matt Ellsworth (Park Davis) met with the Simplot Foundation and Boise City officials to discuss the Esther Simplot Park. Prior to the meeting other VPNA board members provided brainstorming ideas for the park, those can be read using this link.  The development of the Esther Simplot Park is a huge opportunity for residents to shape the future of our neighborhood. VPNA welcomes your input. Please either email us your thoughts at vpnaboise@gmail.com or attend the June board meeting (this coming monday at Idaho River Sports 6:30pm) and share your thoughts with us in person. Below is a full account of what was discussed at the June 8 meeting, specific amenities are in bold for a quick read:

Main points of interest:

  • Extensive discussion about project timelines, phasing, and coordination with other nearby/related projects (ACHD’s 30th St. roadway construction, whitewater park – multiple phases, etc.).
  • Discussed flood impacts, how water will move through the park seasonally.
  • Discussed the need for the roadway to complete before the park opens to provide access, but there may be opportunities to do some site work/grading prior to completion of the roadway, and then do “finishing” work as the roadway wraps up to coincide completion of both projects.
  • Consultant pointed out that work that does not occur in/on the edges of the water can move sooner because it doesn’t have the same permitting requirements.
  • Still a question on how to tie any water facilities/ponds back into the river (upstream or down from the irrigation canal).  This has major site/layout and cost implications.
  • Participants shared ideas about the type of park uses that are desired.  The City indicated that the location/layout is fitting for more passive uses (as opposed more active uses like basketball, for example), with an emphasis on natural uses and amenities.
  • The group agreed that the abundance of water is a huge plus and should be a focal point of the park.
  • Everyone agreed that stormwater treatment and control is an important factor for the site. ACHD and Parks stated that there are a couple options for dealing with runoff from 30th street: 1) stormwater goes into a low spot in the park to percolate into ground water or 2) Stormwater could be “treated” by routing it through a series of landscaped natural canals and swales– an innovative concept in L.I.D., Low Impact Development.
  • Another stormwater source is the large (24″) Pleasenton stormdrain which empties directly into Quinn’s Pond. This water should also be treated and controlled in some way, however the pipe is 7-8′ below grade. There was a comment that likely the pressure in the pipe may be enough to bring the water level up to the surface and into the treatment/control infrastructure for 30th street.
  • It was discussed that Crane Creek should go through a sand filter (to rid it of contaminants) before emptying into the pond.
  • Everyone seemed to want a lot of spots for people to play in/use the water (beaches, shallow “starter” paddle/swimming areas, etc.).
  • It is well established that the park will be alcohol free, unless a permit is issued.
  • The City and ACHD agreed that parking will not be an issue because events exceeding the ample parking provided at the park will be required to submit an event parking plan with the City, to include shuttles to large parking areas nearby, “no parking” signage on local streets, parking patrol and the like.
  • Some sort of concession stand/cafe/food carts are being considered
  • Ideas for a bandshell, floating stage to double as swimming or fishing island, gathering area for concerts, etc. were brought up
  • A goal discussed was balancing Whitewater Rodeo amenities with Beach-goer amenities and fun areas for all ages. Also, balancing a neighborhood park setting with regional whitewater park setting.
  • The idea of connecting Quinn Pond to the Simplot ponds with a “paddleable” lazy river was broadly supported, but the consultant said it will be extremely challenging.
  • VPNA rep expressed interest in community center, year-around uses, dog swim and dog park desires.
  • The consultant discussed the importance of balancing the natural feel of the area with creating a usable and safe park. Bicycle patrol, unobtrusive lighting, spacial design etc. as potential solutions.

Next steps:

  • ACHD will prepare a preliminary schedule for roadway construction to share with Simplot/consultant.
  • Consultant will prepare concept options for discussion among the group and with the public.  Hope to complete preliminary concept by mid-July.
  • City will continue floodplain investigation and communication with irrigation district.
  • Tentative plan for broader public meeting in late July.

Preliminary timeline for comments/review

  • June 20th VPNA board meeting to discuss project, brainstorm, organize next steps and priorities…. board to rally the neighborhood for comments and get word out.
  • Mid-July (7/18) VPNA board meeting. Further determine VPNA’s unified voice for the project and what items we cannot compromise on… “deal breakers” and priorities.
  • Mid-Late July: Consultant to prepare concept drawings for broader public meeting with presentation by Parks’ Wendy Larimore.
  • August-Sept: Additional revisions and meetings TBD
  • Mid-September: Goal to adopt master plan

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