Monday, January 25, 2016

More info about the Greenbelt (history and maintenance) in west Boise

I'm privileged to have a friendship with Gary Segers.  He is a cyclist and an advocate for our "crown jewel," the Greenbelt.  (He founded the group Citizens for an Open Greenbelt... and it was through his efforts in that group, trying to get the forbidden "Riverside Village Nature Path" reopened to cyclists, that I got acquainted with him.)

Gary saw my previous post, giving a thumbs-up to Boise City and ACHD for their efforts to do winter maintenance on the Greenbelt, and a thumbs-down to Garden City for their lack of effort.  He gave me some good info, including clarifying a misunderstanding I've always had about the island the Greenbelt crosses, near the Fairgrounds horse track.  I hope you find this interesting; I did.

"I believe one of the sections you are referring to is what is called 'Plantation Island.'  Most people don't know that the island is owned by the​ ​Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands (IFPL). ​ They were one of the early advocacy groups for Greenbelt development in Boise.  Years ago the Foundation (a forerunner the Boise River Trail Foundation and now the Foundation for Ada Canyon Trails System (FACTS)) recognized that there was no way to travel west on the Greenbelt from Boise city limits on the north side of the river because of the Plantation golf course and housing development.

"During the COG efforts several years ago I found out that the Plantation Golf Course and development managed to get approval from Garden City that blocked any pathway along that section on the north side of the river to Glenwood. So the IFPL figured the only way to make sure that future development of the Greenbelt going west had to be on the south side of the river.  And the only way to make that happen was to buy the island from the State and construct  a pathway and two bridges so that the pathway would continue on the south side of the river along the Ada County Fairgrounds.

"One of the board members of IFPL advised me by email awhile back that ​the IFPL facilitated 'the building and setting of the two bridges and the pathway by the Boise River Trail Foundation, forerunner of F.A.C.T.S.​' She went to say the 'bridges have been repaired with the assistance of Troop No. 94 on various Eagle Scout projects.  Much volunteer labor has been involved and the Foundation has paid for the materials.  Both Ada County and Garden City have helped with a generator and other equipment at times.​' The Foundation does not have the money or resources to improve the pathway in that section or keep it maintained.  They have been trying to negotiate an agreement with Ada County to do the maintenance but the discussions have not resulted in any agreement to date. 

"And just for reference,  the section beginning once you come off the island and head west (along the fairgrounds and stables), is owned and maintained by Ada County (not ACHD).  Garden City's section of the greenbelt begins west of Glenwood and goes on for a couple of miles to the Ada County section. 

"And here is a another bit of useful info.  The Greenbelt west of the Garden City limits (south side of river) to the Eagle City limits is owned by the Foundation for Ada/Canyon Trail Systems (FACTS) of which I am a board member.  Since FACTS has no money to maintain that  roughly 3 mile section we are in the process of deeding that land to Ada County.  It has been a very difficult project but well worth the effort since this creates lots of opportunities for continuing the Boise River Greenbelt west to Eagle and beyond."

It's easy to ride nonchalantly along the Greenbelt, oblivious to the effort required to keep it in prime operating condition... except to gripe when that effort falls short.  IT IS NOT BY ACCIDENT THAT WE HAVE OUR GREENBELT!  I'm grateful for people like Gary, who make the effort, often in a purely volunteer capacity, to provide cycling/walking residents and visitors with a world-class facility.

I dream of the day when it continues on to Eagle Island State Park, Star, Middleton... maybe even Caldwell.

(I stand by my original contention that Boise goes out of its way to accommodate cyclists, while Garden City has no problem with discouraging cyclists, which are seen as a nuisance.)

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