Parks and Rec Asks Bench Neighborhood to Design a Park 

A gas station and a park will replace the old Franklin Elementary School

Those who participated in the public meeting quickly realized three acres will make a very small park.

Jessica Murri

Those who participated in the public meeting quickly realized three acres will make a very small park.

Since the historic Franklin Elementary School was torn down in 2009, nothing has grown in the lot across the street from Fred Meyer except weeds. A portion of the lot was purchased by Maverik for a new gas station on the corner of Franklin Road and Orchard Street. Boise Parks and Recreation has a plan for the rest of it: a new three-acre park for the Central Bench neighborhood.

Parks and Rec hosted a meeting Aug. 27 at the Hillcrest Library, asking neighbors of the Franklin site one question: What kind of park do you want?

"We've got a blank slate," said Toby Norton, Parks Department resource planning manager.

The 20 people who showed up for the presentation were handed an aerial photo of the lot and a Sharpie, and they offered suggestions included a playground, a year-round pool, a splash pad, a skatepark, a community center, walking trails, a community garden, an exercise station, volleyball or tennis courts, a farmers market, picnic shelters and a dog park.

As attendees started drawing their ideas, they quickly came to the same realization: Three acres is small.

"Three acres is nothing," said Fran Ciarlo, a retired homeowner who has lived in the area for three years.

She drew rectangles on the photo for bocce ball and horseshoe courts, marked a place for the playground, a box for a bike rack, a circle for a gazebo and a few X's for barbecues. Suddenly, her map was crowded.

Sitting beside her, 28-year-old Hongmey Zhen designed a courtyard with a water fountain and a place for yoga classes.

"It's important that the neighborhood develops excellently," she said. "I feel like the gas station happened under my nose, so I want to make sure the park will be great."

Parks and Rec will create some conceptual designs and present to the public again. Construction can begin after approval from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

"What our outcome will be, we're not exactly sure," Norton said. "It'll be fun to see what all is generated out of this."

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