Connecting the Trails: Voters to decide Boise's $15.5 million bond

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - There are about 140 miles of trails in the foothills.

The city of Boise, which owns about 50 miles of the Ridge to Rivers system, acquired the properties for the trails with a $10 million levy that passed in 2000. There's only $1.8 million left.

On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to approve a bond that would allocate $5.5 million to building and improving city parks in underserved areas such as the Bench and West Boise, and $10 million to purchase more open spaces, primarily in the foothills.

"Connectivity becomes something of a value for us in that it would be great at some point to be able to connect the dots on all the properties that we've purchased now and really enhance the ridge to rivers trail system that we have," said Dough Holloway, director of Parks & Rec in Boise.

There are three hiking/mountain bike loops that would be good candidates for expansion. Table Rock, Seaman's Gulch near Hill Road in Eagle and Polecat Gulch off Cartwright Road.

"We estimate there are somewhere between 35-40,000 acres of foothill property that's still in private ownership. So that's outside of the different agencies that have ownership in the foothills. So there are still plenty of acres available," Holloway said.

Residents KBOI 2News spoke with on the street seem split on the proposal.

"I think is sounds awesome, I think it's something that needs to be done around here. Our foothills could always use some new improvements and just more trails for people to get out and ride," said Eli Miller, a bike mechanic and mountain bike enthusiast.

"No, I think we have enough right now. I don't think we need to get anymore.. I mean if you go down you can go twice on the same place without spending $10 million," said Kathy Sosabee, Boise resident.

"I thoroughly enjoy hiking in the foothills. I hike up there almost every week - I thoroughly enjoy that. I'm not...I probably wouldn't vote for that because we have so many budget cuts as it is. I would probably push for something else but If we had extra money to spend why not?" said Gabrielle Lucas, another Boise resident.

"Whenever I tell people that I'm from Idaho, from Boise, they always talk about how beautiful it is, how beautiful our wilderness is.. our hills and mountains and stuff so anything to get people to enjoy nature I think is a good idea, I'll probably support it," said Michael Bess, Boise resident.

The city is hoping the bond goes through. And it sounds like they might already have a plan for the money.

"There always are active discussions going on. We're always talking to land owners about purchases, talking to land owners about potential easements. We have land owners still that contact us and yes, we are very active right now in discussions with some land owners about all of the above," Holloway said.

If it passes, the parks and open spaces bond would cost taxpayers just under $6 per year for 20 years.