How to Build a Better Bench: Neighbors Weigh In On Boise's Newest Park 

click to enlarge Toby Norton, city of Boise Parks Resource Planning manager. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Toby Norton, city of Boise Parks Resource Planning manager.

On a particularly warm evening June 1, dozens of Boise Bench residents wedged into a standing room-only conference room at the Hillcrest branch of the Boise Library to have a say in how they'll be spending a lot more summer evenings: in a neighborhood park they can call their own.

Years in the making, officials from the city of Boise said they were one significant step closer to designing the park on a 3.1-acre parcel of land located on a portion of the block where the former Franklin Elementary School once stood.

The city had once hoped to purchase the entire block from the Boise Independent School District, but the city could only raise $395,000 to purchase the 3.1 acres with an option to buy the rest. When that option ran out, the school district auctioned off the remaining 4.7 acres to Maverik, Inc., which has announced it will be building a gas station/convenience store on the larger parcel of land at Franklin Road and Orchard Street.

Bench neighborhood residents had a laundry list of questions about Maverik's plans at the June 1 workshop, which was intended to focus on the park. But either no one from Maverik was in the room or they were choosing to remain anonymous as question after question regarding the company's plans was answered by city officials with a simple, "We don't know. That's Maverik's land. You'll have to ask them."

Still, the mood remained optimistic as Boise Parks Resource Planning Manager Toby Norton unveiled four possible concepts for what will be the city's newest park:
  • Concept No. 1: A scaled-down park featuring a significant amount of green space, restrooms, picnic shelter and swings. 
    click to enlarge CITY OF BOISE
    • City of Boise

  • Concept No. 2: All of the amenities above with a few more extras, including a larger plaza area and a 1/4-mile perimeter walking path framing the park.
    click to enlarge CITY OF BOISE
    • City of Boise

  • Concept No. 3: Most of the amenities would be placed near the center of the park, creating four quadrants of green space in each corner of the site. The layout would also afford the opportunity for a small splash pad water feature.
    click to enlarge CITY OF BOISE
    • City of Boise

  • Concept No. 4: A lot more amenities, including a space for a small farmer's market or food trucks, a 1/4-acre community garden, a larger splash pad water feature, more but smaller picnic shelters spread around the park, an exercise pavilion where yoga classes or athletic programs could be held, and some shorter walking paths.
    click to enlarge CITY OF BOISE
    • City of Boise
Norton said money had already been put aside in the current city budget to begin "greening up" the park—that means installation of turf, trees, irrigation and a parking lot for about 10 cars.

But a lot of work still needs to be done. Residents were asked to weigh in on what option they like best and encouraged to "mix and match" some of the features, perhaps creating a hybrid option that most everyone could like. Boise citizens who weren't able to attend the meeting can submit their comments to Norton at or by calling 208-608-7635.

If all goes as planned, Norton told Boise Weekly he hopes to have one concept to put before the public sometime this summer, possibly within the next 30 days. From there, more public input will be taken and a submission will go before the Parks and Recreation Commission and, ultimately, the Boise City Council for its approval.
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