It Comes In Waves 

Boise prepares for next wave of improvements to whitewater park

The second phase of Boise's whitewater park includes three more waves, terrace seating and a connection from Veteran's Pond all the way to Quinn's Pond for paddlers.

During a Feb. 26 meeting, city of Boise Engineer John Tensen presented plans to overhaul the river's banks with native vegetation and natural cobble-sand beaches.

More than 100 people--a mix of boaters sans lifejackets and helmets, hardcore Greenbelt commuters, graying folks and nature enthusiasts--attended the meeting.

The presentation team included McMillen, a local environmental engineering firm; S2o Design, a Colorado-based whitewater park design firm, famous for designing the London Summer Olympics kayak course; and DHM Design, a river restoration landscaping team.

The first wave in the new series will be wide, letting boaters surf next to each other. Designers envision the second wave to be a rodeo wave, perfect for national competitions. The last feature will be a gentler wave for beginner and intermediate boaters.

Designers are even planning to put in a wheelchair-accessible boat dock.

The plan includes a three-quarter-mile loop of paddling that will be made available when the ponds are connected, so instead of boaters having to lug their boats along the bank, they'll be able to paddle straight to the top of the features. The city would then reroute the Greenbelt to run on the opposite side of Veteran's Pond from where it is now, to keep commuter traffic flowing.

The city already paid for the planning phase of the whitewater park expansion, costing around $250,000, but the rest of the multimillion-dollar project will be funded through private donations, with fundraising done by Friends of the Park. Depending on funds, the earliest Boiseans could see the park complete will be summer 2017.

The meeting turned tense when the floor opened up for questions. Folks from the boating community asked over and over about parking, fearing there wouldn't be enough for large competitions. Now, the design team will take those and other comments back to the drawing board and hold another meeting in the spring, addressing the public's concerns. At that next meeting, they plan to release a cost estimate.

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