Perhaps no other holiday is more associated with spending the day in a park than the Fourth of July. But this Independence Day is unlike any other, due to COVID-19 which has caused the cancellation of a fireworks spectacular. That said, the Boise River Greenbelt, all city parks, city-owned golf courses, some of the Esther Simplot aquatic center and more than 200 miles of Boise Foothills trails will all be open.
Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about a full menu of options for families this holiday weekend.
“We were able to keep our 25-mile stretch of Greenbelt open, and keep our 200 miles-plus of trails and the Boise Foothills open.”
Read the full transcript below:
GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Spending time in the park is probably most associated with the 4th of July, more than any other holiday, but this year, the 4th of July is well unlike any other holiday, as the pandemic has restricted many of our traditions, Doug Holloway is here. He's the Director of Boise Parks and Rec, and he joins us live this morning via Zoom. Doug, good morning.
DOUG HOLLOWAY: Good morning, George. Thanks for having me.
PRENTICE: Doug, can you paint us a word picture of what we should or should not expect in city parks for the 4th of July?
HOLLOWAY: Sure. So, even with the seriousness of the pandemic, we were really fortunate here in Boise that we were able to keep all 93-plus park sites open during that the worst of times. We were able to keep our 25 mile stretch of Greenbelt open, and we were also able to keep our 200 miles-plus of trails and the Boise Foothills open.
HOLLOWAY: George, I've heard from a number of folks almost on a weekly basis that just really thank the city for being able to provide that outlet at a time when so many other pieces of business were closed up or other outlets for folks to be able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors of Boise, Idaho were not available to them. So that will continue obviously through the 4th of July, all those assets are open. We also have been able to get both of our municipal golf courses open. So they'll be open and available during the 4th of July holiday and a week ago Monday, we were very proud and happy to get Zoo Boise back open again, it's on a limited basis, obviously a limited number of admissions. Admissions have to be purchased online-
PRENTICE: Can I pause you there that's timed entry, right? How is that going?
HOLLOWAY: The timed entry is going very well George. In fact, we have basically three components to the plan, the time entry piece, the controlled spaced flow inside the facility, the directional flow inside the facility. Then we limited the number of admissions that we are selling. We originally started out with a hundred per hour, which in a 14 acre park is very, very doable. But once we stepped back into stage three, as a city, we moved that down to 50 per hour or 25 per half hour is what we do on the admission sales.
So, Zoo Boise will be open George, during the 4th of July holiday, golf courses, all of our parks, all the aquatic complex down at Esther Simplot and Quinn's Pond and the Boise River are all accessible. Esther has been closed due to an algae bloom that popped up about a week and a half ago. So our fingers are crossed right now, George, that we possibly could get those ponds back open this weekend. Our public works team has been treating the ponds and the treatment has been working. So hopefully those will be open if not, Queens is still available and so is the access to whitewater park, phase one and two in the Boise River in that area. It's still quite a bit to do for 4th of July.
PRENTICE: What's the status of playgrounds?
HOLLOWAY: So playgrounds were opened up during the stage three process, move at stage three. So they have been open for several weeks now and continue to be open as well as our two outdoor gyms that we have located at Ann Morrison and at Camel's Back Park.
PRENTICE: And will the city pools remain closed through the rest of the summer?
HOLLOWAY: That's correct. Yeah. All of our city pools will continue to be closed. However, a tidbit, some folks aren't aware of is the Boise City Aquatic Center, which is located at the YMCA in West Boise is a city facility and is open to the public and they have reopened that to public swim as well. So it is an indoor facility, but it is open to the public and it is owned by the city.
PRENTICE: Doug, I've got just about a minute left, but I'd be remiss if I didn't note that your department has been a major employer each summer for well, who knows how many thousands of young men and women and how that's been a turning point in their lives as far as developing a work ethic and a professional responsibility and that's a bit of a loss this year.
HOLLOWAY: Unfortunately, George, it is. One thing that the mayor council did do actually, the mayor was insisted that any temporary worker that was already on a schedule, had already been hired, and was planning on working they continued to get paid through the summer. But unfortunately those that would have come on at different points during the summer to do all of our summer programming a lot of that program, it didn't occur. You just brought up George, the swim pools we have somewhere between 120 and 130 employees that help us run those six outdoor pools and the preponderance of them are between the ages of 16 and 22. We didn't open pools this year. So that was obviously an unfortunate situation for them, but there are still a large number that are continued to get paid and our hope, depending on how the health indicators progress from here, our hope is some of those programs will get off the ground in the course of either July or August before school starts.
PRENTICE: He is Doug Holloway, Director of Boise Parks and Rec. Doug happy Fourth to you; next year will be that much better.
HOLLOWAY: We're hoping so, George. Thank you for having me.
Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren
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