Monday, October 31, 2011

Visions of water parks dance in my head

When I have friends or acquaintances come to town I like to mention some of the local attractions they can visit.  Or, I would like to, but Boise is pretty bereft of such.

Boise has its museums and zoo, and of course the greenbelt, but there's little for a tourist to come to Boise for.  Sure, there's some foothills hiking or mountain bike riding, but not much else; maybe float the river, in season. Fishing.  Some of that stuff, but none of it is really specific to Boise.  You can fish anywhere.

You can leave Boise and go whitewater rafting, or go hunting, or see Hell's Canyon or the Owyhees.  But, that's not Boise.  Boise could really use some tourist attractions.  Which is why I'm excited about the planned Boise River Recreation Park.  Not only will it be an attraction, but it will be good for the local economy.

I heard a radio article discussing the planned park, and its proximity to Kelly's Whitewater park in Cascade.  The question being whether the area could support two similar parks. The commenter said that they actually support each other because people will travel to the area to visit both where they might not if there's only one.   Double the fun.  Which gave me an idea.

I think the state of Idaho should take a few million from the budget surplus that's developing (because of the drastic cutting they did) and set up a whitewater recreation fund.  They spend part to do a study showing locations in lots of Idaho towns and cities where a whitewater park could be profitably built.  They use the rest to loan to municipalities to develop the parks.

If lots of such parks were available, water recreationists would travel here to hit them all. Idaho Falls is a natural, given its already developed river location.  Possibly American Falls below the dam, maybe Twin Falls.  I'm no expert, but it seems that at least several of those towns along the Snake River could host a park, and some of the other rivers could support a water park as well.

Even Kuna could build one on Indian Creek.  Anyway, a study would figure all that out.  It could also suggest variations for each park so that each had a particular attraction, which would then tend to cause  visitors to want to see all the different parks.  And, maybe there could also be legislation setting up improvement districts to fund repaying the loans.

Idaho could become a whitewater destination even more than it already is, and boost its economy in the process.  We've got the water and the scenic beauty.  All we need is a little vision and leadership.

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