NAMPA — Two major parks are in the works in Nampa, and Parks and Recreation Director Darrin Johnson said more green space is in the city’s future over the next several years.
Parts of Midway Park and Orah Brandt Park are already open, and Johnson expects it will be nine to 10 years before either is fully complete. Meanwhile, city employees are also in the process of designing extensions to two pathways, Stoddard and Grimes, with construction planned to start in the next two years.
Work on the parks is separated in phases because the department rarely has all the funding necessary to complete the project all at once, Johnson said. With Nampa City Council’s recent decision to make major increases to the city’s impact fees, which will take effect in July, Johnson said the additional revenue will be a huge benefit to the department.
With the increases, residential developers will pay $457 more for every new house they build in Nampa, boosting the original $1,242 fee per unit to $1,699 per unit. That equates to about a 37 percent increase in revenue for parks.
With new impact fees coming, Johnson has some big plans for Nampa’s park development. The city owns about 75 acres of undeveloped land where new parks and pathways will be built, he said. A second dog park is in the works for the city, with planning scheduled to begin in 2020.
Johnson is also looking for land to build a new multiuse park with a soccer field within the next five to 10 years.
Nampa’s pathway development is also growing. The city has 14 pathway miles, up from 8 miles in 2006, Johnson said.
Nampa has recently acquired land to extend some pathways and is working to gather funding for construction. In the next few years, Johnson said the pathways will connect several community parks and schools, as well as provide a walking path to downtown Nampa.
The cost to develop parks varies on the type of park it is, Johnson said. For a larger regional park like Midway, the average cost is about $285,000 per acre. For a community park like Orah Brandt, it’s about $233,000 per acre. In Meridian, Parks and Recreation Director Steve Siddoway said the average cost is about $241,000 per acre. Midway, at full build-out, will be 52 acres, and Orah Brandt will be 28.
The increased impact fees will put Nampa more in line with Meridian’s fees. Siddoway said impact fees make a huge difference in the development of the city’s parks. In fiscal year 2018, Meridian collected more than $3.2 million in impact fees just for parks. In the same year, Nampa collected about $1.1 million.
Over the last 20 years since Mayor Tammy de Weerd first got involved with Meridian’s Planning and Zoning Commission, the city has developed nearly 300 acres of park land. Before 1999, Siddoway said Meridian had just 17 acres of developed park land. In 2004, when De Weerd became mayor, there were about 61 park acres, and this year there are over 307 park acres, with 27 more acres in development. Meridian currently has 24 parks. It’s in the process of developing a third regional park, Discovery Park, on 77 acres in the southern part of town.
In comparison, Nampa had 228 acres of developed park space when Johnson started as director in 2006, and since then, that number has grown to 270 acres. Nampa has a total of 27 parks.
The National Recreation and Park Association said the typical parks department in the U.S. offers one park per 2,114 residents, with 10.1 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents. With about 93,000 residents, Nampa offers one park per 3,466 residents, while Meridian, with over 99,000 residents, offers one park per 4,163 residents.
Green space provides a key quality of life for a community, Siddoway said, allowing residents a place to be active.
According to a 2017 survey of Meridian residents, 89 percent said they were satisfied with their city’s parks. A 2018 survey of Nampa residents showed 71 percent of residents were satisfied with the parks.
Johnson agreed that parks bring a lot of value to a community. He said as new people and businesses look to the Treasure Valley as a place to settle, the number of parks and the maintenance of those parks affects their choice of city. Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling said both parks and pathways are an important factor in a community’s activity and overall health, but she said she is not interested in competing with Meridian for which city offers the better green space.
“We need to be the best that we can be,” Kling said.