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Originally published by the Idaho Press-Tribune.
CALDWELL — In the next five years, Caldwell residents could have a pathway that runs from the banks of Indian Creek in the city’s downtown to the banks of the Boise River.
Bicyclists and pedestrians would follow a 10-foot wide pathway from the downtown area through the Densho Garden. They would cross two bridges over Indian Creek and a new crosswalk on Simplot Boulevard to reach the existing greenbelt along the Boise River near Centennial Way.
The greenbelt along the river could also be extended with a new bridge over the river to Curtis Park, a wilderness park.
“This is the crown jewel of our greenbelt system,” Brian Billingsley, the city’s planning and zoning director, said of the greenbelt by the river. “It’s by far the most scenic part.”
Billingsley presented those and other proposed future pathway projects to the Caldwell City Council in a recent workshop. The projects were chosen by members of the city’s Pathways and Bike Routes Committee.
“We’re putting together a pretty good course of bike trails and pathways,” said committee member Paul Mann.
The committee focused on projects that could be done on land owned by the city or that it could easily obtain easements for, Billingsley said.
“When we looked at coming up with a five-year work program, land acquisition is important, and we wanted to have all the land acquired,” he said.
The city has acquired about 24 acres of land for greenbelt and pathway projects including more than 10 acres for the Boise River greenbelt and about 12 acres for the extension of the Indian Creek pathway.
Billingsley’s presentation also came with a request for a funding increase from the city to help pay for the projects. Since fiscal year 2012, $30,000 a year of city funding has gone toward pathways and bike routes, but the proposal called for a $10,000 increase to $40,000 each year for the next five years.
The city will determine if that’s a possibility when the budget is set this summer.
The projects would also need grant funding, and Billingsley identified other potential funding sources including donations, impact fees, other city funds and Community Development Block Grants.
All told, the six projects Billingsley proposed for the next five years would cost an estimated $927,500. They would expand the mileage of pathways in the city from 6.75 miles to 8.55 miles.
FUTURE PATHWAYS IN CALDWELL
Since fiscal year 2011, $135,000 in city funds has been put toward pathways and bike routes. About $100,000 of that has gone to widening and resurfacing the greenbelt in Caldwell, but the funding also went toward installing a bike route from Canyon Hill to the Y, putting in bike lanes on Montana Avenue and Linden Street, installing downtown bike racks and improving the pedestrian overpass on Interstate 84.
The five-year plan Billingsley presented starts with smaller projects and puts the larger projects — including the expansion of the Boise River greenbelt and the Indian Creek pathway — out a few years in order to have time to apply for funding, he said.
The fiscal year 2016 projects include a pathway connecting the Caldwell Family YMCA to Heritage Community Charter School and a pathway connecting several subdivisions with Jefferson Middle School, Washington Elementary School and Syringa Middle School. The total cost of both of those projects is $35,000.
“We should really push the idea of getting these bikes trails to the schools so they could travel to and from in a safe manner,” Mann said.
The Indian Creek extension to the greenbelt was proposed for fiscal year 2018, and the greenbelt extension to Curtis Park was proposed for fiscal year 2019.
Along with the pathway extensions, a project was proposed for fiscal year 2017 to widen and resurface the Rotary Pond Park pathway.