IDAHO FALLS — It has been years in the making, but a new park is open to the community to enjoy, and it’s all thanks to partnerships for making it happen.
The City of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Falls Rotary Club hosted a ribbon cutting for a new green space called Heritage Park on Wednesday. More than 150 people were in attendance, with speakers thanking all those involved.
“This is probably one of the largest ribbon-cutting turnouts we’ve ever had,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said.
The ribbon-cutting marked the completion of the first phase of the 14-acre park along the Snake River near Snake River Parkway north of Sunnyside Road.
Watch the full ribbon-cutting event below.
“This park is not done, and it won’t be done probably for a long, long time. It’s going to take ongoing partnership and dedication and participation from the community to help it to become the place that we envision,” Casper said.
After completion, the park will include an expansion of the River Walk, nature trails and walkways, heritage stops, a nature-themed playground area, an interactive stream designed for youth water play, surface water gardens, shelters, lighting, benches, parking, and other features.
“This whole project started — from the research I could do — was a dream, an idea from Mayor (Jared) Fuhriman from over 15 years ago,” said Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Director PJ Holm.
Throughout the years, there have been negotiations and land donated along with equipment.
Heritage Park has come together through partnerships with sponsors and donors within the community. Donations include from the Idaho Falls Rotary Club with more than $6 million raised through duck races with matched funds by the city of Idaho Falls for the River Walk Greenbelt, land by Stafford and Woody Smith families, parking and construction by Snake River Landing and Ball Ventures, and dirt by Matt Morgan.
“Here we are 15 years later, standing in that property, in a beautiful beginning. … We are standing right here in that vision of what our prior mayor had. Very exciting and fun to see,” Holm said. “This is just my thought but I would think that Mayor Fuhriman is probably sitting up somewhere over us, with a big smile on his face after having that vision of this park.”
Also speaking was TV personality Mike Pyle, who is the co-host of “Inside Out” on HGTV and is from California.
“There’s not a lot of community in California. Since I’ve been here (in Idaho), you see the community. Creating this park, creating a safe place for families … creating experiences and relationships … is just something that is so dear to my heart and I know that it is dear to everyone that was involved because this came together,” Pyle said.
After the ribbon was cut to celebrate Heritage Park, there was an unveiling of a new blue bench that said “Idaho Falls” on it. There have already been bikers, rollerbladers, runners and walkers using the new park.
“We encourage our community to come out and enjoy the park as it blossoms with streams, native vegetation, shelters, restrooms (and) park amenities,” Holm added. “This will be a gem in our community.”