The Idaho Falls Rotary Club donated $700,000 to the city of Idaho Falls to help develop the city’s newest park, Heritage Park.
The Rotary Club presented a check to the city during its weekly luncheon on Wednesday, the club announced in a news release.
“(The donation) is going to help immensely,” said Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation Director PJ Holm. “This is really going to open up the park (from stalled construction) to almost a final product.”
The city has been developing the park for the last three years. Holm said development had stalled due to a lack of funding and issues with construction companies.
Heritage Park is a nature-themed park and will feature an interactive stream of diverted water from the Snake River that winds through the park. About half a mile of trail space will be available at the park and instead of a playground for kids, the park will have nature-themed climbing spaces including boulders, logs and other natural items.
“(We want to) resemble kids playing in the forest or nature as kids used to do a little more back in the day,” Holm said.
The city expects to open the park by early summer 2022, Holm said. The park will continue being developed after it opens as the city plans to add more park infrastructure such as additional pathways, lighting and shelter spaces.
Heritage Park is located on the west side of the Snake River, just north of Sunnyside Road.
“The $700,000 is in addition to the approximate $100,000 the Club has already donated toward the project and another $100,000 that will be donated later this year when this phase of the project is scheduled for completion,” said Rotarian Kerry Hammon in the release.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race. The release said more than $5.5 million has been raised since the race started, with matching funds from the city of Idaho Falls. All proceeds have gone toward improvements to the River Walk/Greenbelt. The proceeds have gone specifically toward Heritage Park for the past five years.
“Everybody is a winner when it comes to the Duck Race. Even if you didn’t win a grand prize, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your duck adoptions went toward such an amazing project that generations will enjoy for many years to come,” Hammon said in the release.
This year’s Duck Race grand prize was a 2014 Jeep Rubicon, donated by Idaho Falls Cars and Truck. The first place prize was a 2021 Polaris Sportsman HD 4-wheeler, donated by Idaho Central Credit Union.
Hammon said in the release that all 19,000 ducks were adopted much sooner this year than previous years, making the duck race the most successful year to date.
“This was an amazing contribution the Rotary Club made to the city,” Holm said. “We’d like to give a big thank you to the Rotary Club and I’m excited for the community to get a chance to really come in and experience this park for themselves.