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Viewpoint: Boise Parks and Rec's plans and projects

Boise Parks & Rec plan on adding many miles of pathways to the city, replacing the Ann Morrison Park fountain and deciding the future of two iconic swimming pools.

BOISE, Idaho — Sometimes you make something better by adding to it. Other times by subtracting from it, you know, a little addition by subtraction. Still other times, it's a combo of out with the old, in with the new.

The city of Boise is going to be doing a lot more adding to make our already amazing parks and pathways even better for all the long-timers and newcomers to enjoy. Some combo-ing will coincide with that. But will there be some subtracting of a couple of iconic structures? That equation is still unsolved.

The iconic, art-deco, above-ground Lowell and South pools have cooled off and entertained generations of Boiseans since the summer of 1953. They're historic, which also means aging. They won't open this summer after assessments revealed serious safety and handicapped accessibility issues. 

So the city is now reaching out to the people, to decide whether to renovate, remove or replace the pools.

On the Boise Bench, Franklin Park just off Franklin Road and Orchard Street will look more futuristic with a new playground for kids of all abilities and a workout station.

Also, do you like to walk, run or ride a bike? The city wants to do some serious addition to its Greenbelt network of paved pathways in the coming years. The Pathways Masterplan proposes 112 new miles of pathways across the city with the promise of putting most Boise residents within a 10-minute walk of one of them.

At Ann Morrison Park, it will be out with the old and in with the new. The 1990s era fountain is scheduled to be demolished this month. Boise Parks and Recreation Department Director Doug Holloway says it has outlived its life expectancy, replacement parts are hard to come by and it's not safe for kids to play in because they could fall out onto the concrete.

Once the demolition is done, work will then start on its replacement, a brand spanking new, sparkling, spraying, 70-foot long, ground-level water tunnel with water jets and L-E-Ds.

"The best day of my life will be when I can come down to Ann Morrison Park and see that fountain covered with kids, and that's literally what they will be able to do," Holloway said. "The two seated areas that you see on each side of that 70-foot footprint also has an opportunity to sit there, but there's what we call water weirs where water will actually be spilling out of the seats as well. But what I think would bring joy to all of us is just to see that whole tunnel filled with kids playing all day long in the hot summer sun when they're visiting Ann Morrison Park."

The Boise Parks and Rec website says, with the press of a button, the water jets will run through water show sequences. The project will cost just under $2 million. 

City money and donations of $325,000 from the Harry W. Morrison Foundation and a $100,000 donation from the Morrison Knudsen Foundation will pay for the project. An opening date for the new fountain has not yet been set.

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