Eagle Island State Park
The existing park is a 544 acre site acquired in 1981, with a prior history as a state prison farm, and is nestled between the north and south channels of the Boise river in the heart of the bustling Treasure Valley metropolitan area. Existing uses included a nine acre swimming pond, water slide, picnic shelters and perimeter equestrian and walking trails. The majority of the park was grass pastures with grazing cattle.
The Landscape Architect was lead consultant and assembled a team including architects, engineers, flood hydrologists, environmental scientists and geotechnical engineers to handle the diversity of issues in the planning process. State Parks assembled a stakeholders committee representing citizens from adjoining cities and counties, affected governmental agencies, and key elected officials. This committee met every few weeks for the accelerated design timeline and was tasked with the main purpose which was to follow a process that identified outdoor recreation needs in the valley and determine which of those needs Eagle Island State Park could fulfill. They examined Ada and Canyon county data from the statewide 2004-2005 Outdoor Recreation Needs Assessment. And, they conducted their own survey on outdoor recreation needs in Ada and Canyon counties, specifically relating to development at Eagle Island State Park. The committee developed goals for the park, including:
Develop Eagle Island primarily as a natural park accessible to urban dwellers.
Preserve, enhance and sustain the park’s natural and cultural resources.
Maintain the river and develop complimentary water features as focal points
Provide river access to the park and explore connecting water paths within the park
Include a variety of family-oriented recreation facilities
Through a series of design charrettes, the committee brainstormed what the park might look like, what it might offer and how it might function. The best ideas from those sessions were combined into a single vision, refined by technical experts, and reviewed a final time by the committee.
First, their vision includes a new, grand entrance to the park off State Street. Visitors will cross the river on a new bridge specifically designed to provide safe passage on and off the island, even when existing bridges might be impassable during a major flood. A new welcome center will orient visitors to the park, and introduce them to Idaho’s entire park system through interactive exhibits. There will be a small campground for RVs, but the focus is on camping for scout, school and church groups who want to set up tents, and for kayakers and canoeists. A greatly enhanced trail system will take you along the river bottoms, near protected wetlands, and beside a tempting series of water trails. A wetlands interpretive center operated with Fish & Game will educate the public about Idaho’s diverse environmental ecosystems. The wetlands center concept includes an amphitheater to accommodate school groups that will double as an outdoor venue for Treasure Valley theater and music productions.
The key to the success of this master plan will be the development of the new lake features that will also generate $15 million in revenue by mining the gravel resources below the park to help offset the park development costs.