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Some community members upset with lack of air pumps at Barber Park

Trespassing, parking congestion and frequent rescues on the Boise River are issues some people attribute to not having air pumps at Barber Park.

BOISE, Idaho — Three years later, some people are still unhappy with Ada County’s decision to get rid of air pumps at Barber Park.

Trespassing, parking congestion and frequent rescues on the Boise River are all issues some community members attribute to not having access to public air pumps at Barber Park.

Boise City Councilmember Patrick Bageant said not having public air compressors available at Barber Park is a safety concern.

Bageant said the Boise Fire Department is patrolling the river more this year than in year’s past, in part because people are choosing to use unreliable, flimsy floats. 

The more air compressors, the higher likelihood of people spending the time to inflate safer, sturdier floats, according to Bageant.

“Somebody’s gonna die,” Bageant said. “It's going to be a child or it's going to be a person in their early 20s who doesn't know any better and they'll be on an inferior, small little floaty device, because that's the only option they have without a good air compressor up there, and they will drown.”

The county got rid of air compressors three years ago. Ada County Parks and Waterways spokesperson Robbie Sosin said their goal was to help reduce traffic bottleneck at the put in. 

Oftentimes, people waited in long lines to inflate their tubes and rafts. Sosin said these long lines, combined with hot temperatures, caused fights to break out. 

Littering was also common, according to Sosin. 

Not only did the county remove public access to air compressors, he said they actually got rid of the hookups altogether during a park remodel.

Some community members, like Amy Bezzoso, said removing traffic bottleneck only pushed congestion to the parking lot.  

“We have to spend the extra time to blow them up here instead of getting dropped off and going to the pumps and airing them up there,” Bezzoso said.  

Sosin said there is one outlet open for people to inflate their tubes. Other than that, people are on their own. Barber Valley Neighborhood Association Vice President Rob Stark said the single outlet can become an issue.

Just this week, Boise Police shared a video of a man using an outlet at a private residence to inflate a float. Stark said parking and general poor behavior in neighborhoods are other concerns.  

“Empty beer cans, music blasting, one of the residents found a used condom in his front yard on a float weekend,” Stark said. “Your jaw just drops like that people act this way.”

Bageant said it is creating more and more problems for the city.

“We used to have all the issues concentrated in one place where we could manage them,” Bageant said. “Now, it's just dispersed out into that neighborhood and, of course, those residents are upset.”

At the heart of the issue, Stark said he really just wants the county to be good neighbors.

Both he and Bageant said they have talked to people from Ada County about the issue, but have not made much headway in getting air compressors reinstalled.

Ada County commissioners did not return KTVB’s call.  

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