Several major upgrades are planned for Boise’s largest regional park but the foundation behind the project hopes the community will pitch in and help.
The Harry W. Morrison Foundation created the Come Play! Campaign with the hopes of fundraising $2 million from the public, which will go toward a number of enhancements at Ann Morrison Park.
The enhancements include replacing the park’s water fountain, renovating the clocktower, improving signage at entryways to the park, and improving the float takeout area on the Boise River.
Another project would create a pedestrian and bike access up the Boise Bench at Peasley St., which would hook up with a new Boise Bench bikeway.
These upgrades were identified after soliciting feedback from the community for the park’s master plan in 2016. The off-leash dog park and swim area, Together Treasure Valley Dog Island, was also on the list of planned improvements and completed in 2019.
The remaining upgrades will cost $6 million. The City of Boise will contribute $2 million, the Harry W. Morrison Foundation will contribute an additional $2 million and the Come Play! Campaign hopes to fundraise the remaining $2 million.
Harry W. Morrison Foundation board member Bonnie Wilkerson says asking for the public to help fund the improvements is how Ann Morrison Park was originally built decades ago.
“The park was built by a lot of peoples’ contributions back in 1959,” Wilkerson said. “Mr. Morrison contributed a lot to building the park but he also solicited donations from throughout the community, fundraising, donations of trees and sundials.”
Ann Daly Morrison moved to Boise at age 15, after growing up on Quartzburg, Idaho. She met and married Harry Morrison, who co-founded construction firm Morrison Knudsen. Ann died of lekemia in 1957. Harry purchased the 163 acres of land for the park and dedicated in her honor in 1959. The park is one of the city’s Ribbon of Jewels, named for women throughout Boise’s history.
So far, the Come Play! Campaign already secured funding to replace the park’s fountain and Wilkerson said construction will begin this summer.
“We’re going to make it more of an interactive fountain that kids can run and play in instead of just kind of standing on the side and getting dumped on,” she said.
Creating the Peasley St. connection and renovating the clocktower, which includes moving the clock from the sports fields to an undecided location, will likely be completed next and the campaign is currently seeking funding for those efforts.
“The park has just had minimal upgrades so we’re really trying to do a major overhaul so that it’s more user friendly for the next generation,” Wilkerson said.
The redesigned floater takeout area on the Boise River and improved signage at the park entryways still need more engineering and design work before fundraising can begin on those upgrades. Wilkerson says a design competition is currently underway for the park entryway signs.
“We put out a competition to college students in Idaho to create some signs that they think would look good to let people know they were entering the park.”
Wilkerson says a timeline for the entire project is largely dependent on fundraising from the Come Play! Campaign and is hoping the community will be encouraged to donate.
“Everybody knows that your tax dollars go toward improving and maintaining the parks but a lot of times the capital developments and improvements can take a while for the city to come up with funds for a specific park when they have so many other needs for the money,” Wilkerson said. “So, this is a way of getting the park upgraded in a quicker manner if the city contributes.”
To learn more about the Come Play! Campaign and contribute to the cause, click here.