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Boise might trade large park site for housing, foothills land. Neighbors aren’t pleased

A proposal to swap a decades-old future park site for open space in the Boise Foothills is ruffling some feathers on Boise’s southwest border.

The City of Boise is in talks to trade a 160-acre parcel south of Victory Road once envisioned for a park with athletic fields and other amenities for housing development. A smaller park or parks could be built instead.

City officials would not disclose to BoiseDev the developer’s identity, what exact piece of property the city would get in the Boise foothills in exchange, or if the resulting development would include affordable housing.

[City council approves dozens of new homes in ‘Music’ project in SW Boise]

Costly park to build

The 1997 plan for the Murgotio Regional Park. Via City of Boise

The site, called Murgoitio Park, lies just beyond Boise City limits, but it is in the area of impact and has been on the books for a park since 1997.

The site itself is larger than Ann Morrison Park in downtown Boise. The city has not moved to begin greening up the park or installing any amenities in the decades since city officials adopted the master plan. The city removed a link to the master plan from the Murgoitio Park page on the city’s website over the weekend after news of the potential swap started making the rounds on social media.

[Ann Morrison fountain isn’t turned on. Something ‘more interactive’ is coming]

Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway said the swap allows the city to bring more housing online to combat the growing housing shortage in the Treasure Valley. He estimated it would cost between $28 and $35 million alone to add grass to the large park, which does not include the cost of amenities like a playground or fields.

Holloway also said demand for sports fields and open space has been met elsewhere in the area with the recently built out Peppermint and Molenaar parks in the area.

“Our inventory is extremely adequate in handling those regional sports based activities, like soccer and baseball,” Holloway said. “We have the Simplot Sports Complex in Southeast Boise and Optimist Sports Complex. They are fulfilling any need we have in building more soccer fields and baseball fields. Additionally, cities like Meridian are building more sports fields and accommodating more constituents so there is no future need to be developing more field space in our inventory.”

[Boise to name new park for Cherie Buckner-Webb, Idaho’s first Black woman in the legislature]

The city’s plan for redeveloping Murgoitio includes the 7-acre community park space with the potential of another 40 acres of park space using land owned by the Boise Public School District directly north of the 160 acres owned by the city. Holloway said multiple aspects of the plan are still in preliminary stages, but more details should be available in “a few weeks.”

Residents say #DontStealOurPark

Southwest Boiseans are not pleased with this proposal.

Since news of the potential swap hit the social media airwaves late last week, residents of the neighborhood raised objections to the idea with posts tagged #DontStealOurPark. Marisa Keith, president of the Southwest Ada Community Alliance, said this reinforces the feeling in the community that city leadership does not care about the fringes of the city.

“There is this narrative in the public that the city only does things to benefit primarily one side of Boise and now they’re taking away open space, because in the southwest we don’t have a river, we don’t have the foothills and large open space parks,” Keith said. “Here the city is taking away our open space and going to give it to the people who have easy access to these things already.”

The neighborhood association spans both Boise city limits and those who live in Ada County, but who still live in Boise’s area of impact. Those outside of city limits are not able to vote in city elections.

The city is holding a meeting on the potential annexation of Murgoitio to begin the process of the proposed swap on Thursday.

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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