One of Boise’s “Ribbon of Jewels” parks is on its way to shining a little brighter, but it needs some help first.
City officials seek to make another update to Ann Morrison Park to meet the park’s latest master plan, Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway told the Statesman.
The first update was opening Dog Island, a now-beloved feature of the park, in July 2019, Holloway said. What comes next depends on funding — and that’s where the Harry Morrison Foundation, named for Ann’s husband, comes in.
“We at the Harry Morrison Foundation decided we wanted to help out with this improvement plan and get it done a little bit faster than the city parks department may be able to afford on its own,” Bonnie Wilkerson, secretary-treasurer of the foundation, said in a phone call. “So we agreed to put in $2 million, the city agreed to match that, and we decided we were going to fundraise another $2 million.”
The goal is to get the park, which has been open since 1959, “ready for the next generation” of users, Wilkerson said.
The top priorities? An upgrade to an interactive fountain, an improvement to the rafters’ takeout along the Boise River to ease congestion, and better pedestrian and bicycle access from Crescent Rim Drive.
The clock tower will also be restored and moved out of the sports fields.
New signs will be placed too. Holloway said a lot of Ann Morrison’s signage dates from the late 1980s and looks outdated now.
Work on the fountain is due to start any time now, Wilkerson said. That project will involve tearing out the old fountain and putting in a new one that children can run through during warm months. It is expected to be completed this summer.
The improvement to the pedestrian and bike access will likely come next.
While the original plan was a $6 million upgrade, with $2 million each coming from the foundation, the city and private fundraising, costs have gone up beyond what was originally expected.
“We don’t have the funds to go ahead and do the improvements all on our own and still be able to maintain granting to the community,” Wilkerson said. “So we’re asking for help. The park was a community effort at the time it was built, and we’re looking for a community effort to get it refurbished and renewed.”
The foundation has launched the “Come Play! Campaign” to raise the extra $2 million. When money is raised, Wilkerson said, the renovations on the park will be able to move forward.
Ann Morrison Park is “a unique space, in walking distance from the core of downtown, along the Greenbelt and along the river,” Holloway said. For the foundation, “to do some face-lifting is a nod toward giving something back to the community that they love so much.”
To learn more about the campaign and how to get involved, visit annmorrisonpark.org.