Boise Asks Voters To Approve New Debt For Parks

Nov 4, 2013

The Sterling Park site in west Boise is one of three that would be developed into city parks if voters approve the $15.7 million parks and open spaces bonds proposal on Tuesday's ballot. The 8 acre site is currently used as a dog park.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Boise residents will vote Tuesday on two bond proposals that total $51 million with financing fees. That translates to about $32 million in actual spending money.

The city would use some of the funds to buy more open space, likely in the foothills for instance. Money would also be used to build three new city parks and upgrade three others. 

Doug Holloway is the head of Boise’s Parks and Rec Department. He’s stands on an 8 acre site covered in wood chips. Right now, the space is used as a dog park. It’s at the corner or Irving and Mitchell streets, just south of Fairview Ave. If the parks bonds pass, this area would be developed with playground equipment, shelters, restrooms, a splash-pad and skate park. 

Holloway can’t campaign for or against the bonds, but says to get the new park built anytime soon, his department needs extra money.

“The prognosis of this [space] getting developed without the bond is probably fairly slim,” he says. “It’s still a priority, and will be a priority, but unfortunately without the bond it probably is going to take a lot longer.”

A group of Boise residents have come together to urge voters to approve the extra debt. The group’s co-chair, Hollis Brookver, says the parks bonds are “legacy” investments and will help the city with economic development.

“We’re never going to have the lowest taxes,” she says. “We have to have the quality of life - the livability- that companies look at when they’re going to relocate, or stay, in Boise.”

Brookover and other supporters tout the overall bond package as costing the owner of an average Boise home – worth $184,000 -- about $12 a year in extra taxes for the next 20 years. 

Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway says the City of Boise purchased the Sterling Park site in the early 2000s. The city wants to spend $1.8 million to add shelters, playground equipment, restrooms, a splash pad and a skate park.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

No one has formally organized against the bonds. But there are critics. Bill Jarocki is one. He thinks Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department annual budget of $28 million is big enough. 

“I’m looking at a huge investment that the taxpayers are already making, and assuming that there are some efficiencies that could be gained,” he says.

Jarocki would like to see the city find money in its regular Parks and Recreation budget and build one park every two years.

He’s running for Boise’s City Council seat four. His opponents, incumbent TJ Thomson and Jill Humble, both support the parks bonds.

The parks and open space bonds total $15.7 million. They’ll require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio