Thursday, November 14, 2013

So long splash park, hello "Memorial Falls"

The "splash park" on the Idaho Falls Greenbelt is no more. It has been pared down to less than one-third of its proposed size, dressed up in red, white and blue, and renamed "Memorial Falls."

When it became obvious that public objections had become a serious problem for the city of Idaho Falls' proposal to build a big interactive water feature at Memorial and Riverside, Parks and Rec Director Greg Weitzel and designer Nate Durtschi of Rock Solid Landscape went back to the drawing board. Not wanting to give up on a fountain at the location, they enlisted local veterans' support for the idea of turning the feature into a memorial to soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

As for the splash part of the proposal, "the vets thought kids interacting is a great idea," Weitzel told the Idaho Falls City Council today at a morning work session. "When kid interact, kids learn," he said. Still, frolicking in the jets and the cascading water will not me the focus. "It can be played in, but that's not its purpose," he said.

Weitzel said he was very pleased by the turnout Wednesday night for the Greenbelt public meeting at the Residence Inn -- over 130 people -- and by the level of investment residents feel in the city's public spaces. "We do not have a shy public here in Idaho Falls," he said.

More than 1,000 people responded to a survey for the Connecting Our Community study, only slightly less than a similar study conducted in Salt Lake City. "We're taking the lead from the public," he said. "They're saying the Greenbelt is the number one resource we have."

The next step for Memorial Falls would be for the City Council to approve a design contract. Weitzel said he is hopeful the project might be finished in time for a dedication next July 4.

"We would be the first city in Idaho to recognize Iraq and Afghanisan vets," he said. "It's a perfect fit for Memorial Drive."

Would you like to support local online journalism? BizMojo Idaho could use your help with a donation.