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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boise greenbelt

The Boise greenbelt refers to a long bicycling, walking or jogging trail through Boise, Idaho, USA that follows the Boise River on both the north and south banks and connects most of the major city parks. The greenbelt runs approximately 16 miles from Lucky Peak Reservoir in the east to a short distance beyond the Idaho Fairgrounds in the west in the nearby city of Garden City, Idaho.

Greenbelt points of interest

On the north bank, from east to west, it begins at Lucky Peak State Park at the foot of Lucky Peak Dam and passes through Warm Springs Golf Course, Municipal Park, MK Nature Center, Julia Davis Park, downtown Boise, proposed Esther Simplot Park and Veterans Memorial State Park. Approximately 1.5 miles west of Veterans Memorial Parkway the north bank trail ends, however, pedestrian bridges carry traffic to the south bank trail. The north bank trail picks up again at the Glenwood Street bridge, but after a very short distance the trail becomes pedestrians only at the Riverside Village residential development. As of April 2008 Garden City has made it a misdemeanor to ride a bicycle on the greenbelt through Riverside Village.

On the south bank, from east to west, it begins at Barber Park, and passes through the ParkCenter Boulevard residential area, Boise State University and Ann Morrison Park. In the ParkCenter Boulevard area cyclists and hikers are segregated, only hikers are allowed on an unpaved trail along the river while cyclists must follow a circuitous route through the neighborhood. At the west end of Ann Morrison Park and just east of Kathryn Albertson Park, westward, there is a half mile gap until the Main Street bridge at which point the greenbelt continues on the south bank to approximately 1 mile west of the Glenwood Street bridge.

Greenbelt History

In 1964 the city hired a consultant (Atkins) to write a comprehensive plan and update the city's zoning ordinance. He suggested that the city acquire land along the Boise River to create a continuous "green belt" of public lands stretching the entire length of the community. Soon, a local grassroots effort to clean up the waterway and create public access to the river corridor began to take hold. This vision caught on and in 1966 and 1967 three small parcels of land were donated to the city to launch this "green belt."

In 1968, with public interest and support growing, the first Greenbelt Plan and Guidelines were adopted by the Board of Parks Commissioners. A Greenbelt and Pathways Committee was appointed in 1969 to guide the City of Boise as it worked to develop the Greenbelt, and in 1971 the first Greenbelt Ordinance was adopted which required a minimum setback of 70 feet for all structures and parking areas. The City of Boise continued to slowly piece together a patchwork of land along the corridor using several methods of acquisition including purchase, exchange, leasing and receiving donations of property by individuals, civic groups and corporations.

Also in 1968, Arlo Nelson produced the Boise River Greenbelt Comprehensive Plan & Design. Pictures of the 1968 Greenbelt Plan.

City councilman Bill Onweiler may have been the greatest single force behind the Boise Greenbelt. In 1970 he produced an aerial video for use in promoting the idea of a greenbelt. Bill Onweiler's 1970 video on youtube.

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