Friday, December 19, 2014

Idaho Falls receives 11-acre land donation for park development

The waterfall at what is slated to become Heritage Park
Christmas came early to the city of Idaho Falls, as three property owners made a gift Thursday night of more than 11 acres of undeveloped property on the Snake River north of Sunnyside Road.

Stafford and Woody Smith, Ball Ventures and the Idaho Falls Rotary Club announced a gift and park development agreement for land on the river’s west bank, value estimated at nearly $2 million. Situated at the south end of Snake River Landing, the land will be developed into Heritage Park. It features unique lava rock formations and a scenic natural waterfall.

The agreement says the park will be developed to include walkways, parking, water features, landscaping, lighting, benches, monuments and other features.

“The creation of Heritage Park is a great example of how individuals, companies, civic organizations and city officials can work together to accomplish amazing things for our community,” said Eric Isom, Ball Ventures’ chief development officer. “Improving this riverfront area will not only increase the quality of life for area residents, but will continue to promote further economic development in our city.”

Stafford Smith, who co-owns the land with his brother Woody, said the Heritage Park theme is intended honor the city’s relationship with the river, which dates back to 1865, when James Madison “Matt” Taylor built a toll bridge across the Snake River. “This park will represent and celebrate our heritage,” he said.

A Heritage Park development committee will be established in the next 90 days, and the city anticipates it will take three years to put together a plan -- seeking out local, state, federal and foundation grants, as well as donations from other business.

Over the past 24 years, the Rotary Club of Idaho Falls, through the annual Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race and grants from the city, has raised approximately $2 million for greenbelt improvements and expansion. The money has paid for more than seven miles of running and biking paths, the Trapper statue on Memorial Drive and the development of the Friendship Garden and Ryder Park.

“Rotary has been committed to raising money to develop and enhance the greenbelt since 1991. We were delighted to partner with the other Heritage Park donors as part of our 2018 Centennial project,” said Rotarian Kevin Call.