by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
photography by John Webster
Barber Pool will remain open space thanks to generosity and the efforts of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. “Our interest is to preserve this area for your grandkids. That’s our charge,” states Larry Leasure, chairman of the Acquisitions Committee and board member of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands. Leasure is a visionary and chairman and CEO of White-Leasure Development Company, which is responsible for developing such Boise landmarks as the Grove Hotel, Centurylink Arena, Boise Towne Square area and the 8th Street Marketplace with Winston Moore. But Leasure is also keen to preserve open spaces, especially those riparian environments near the Barber Pool. As a board member of the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, he’s been involved in finding a balance between environmental preservation and economic projects for 42 years. The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands, headed by president Don Weilmunster, is a non- profit whose mission is “to preserve and protect open space lands and unique natural, scenic settings for public benefit through various flexible conservation methods.”
Leasure shows me a map of Idaho. “It started with a donation of 15,000 acres from the Harriman family near Island Park in 1972.” Projects of the Foundation range from as far north as Coeur D’Alene to the southeast corner of Soda Springs. But today Leasure is most excited about phase one of the Barber Pool Enhancement Project. The Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands purchased an option to buy twelve acres near the Idaho Shakespeare Festival from a developer who had planned to build 43 homes on the site. Judy Peavey-Derr and Leasure are co-chairing a fundraising campaign which has raised 85% of the money needed to finalize the purchase. “We’re requesting financial help from the community to assist in purchasing the land,” stated Peavey-Derr. “We have a group called the Founding 50. We’re looking for 50 people to invest a minimum of $5,000. So far we have 27.” The list of names and donations is impressive, ranging from $5,000 to $499,999. The back side of the donors list is even more extensive with campaign contributions ranging from one dollar to $4,999. There are more than 200 names of people who want to help protect the habitat along the Boise River as well as the summer productions of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Right now the 12-acre site encompasses three lagoon pools, which operated as sewage treatment ponds for the Barber Sewer Company. Those pools are no longer needed as Boise’s municipal sewer system now serves the area. The lagoons must be remediated before the land can be put to other use. “We received a grant so the Idaho Division of Environment Quality can study the sludge and soils there,” shares Peavey-Derr. “The DEQ has been fantastic. They are determining whether to remove or treat the sludge. Gary Howard of The Wetlands Group has agreed to make a $250,000 challenge gift for the mitigation of the property.”
“Boise is blessed to have fabulous parks,”reminds Leasure. “The parks along the Greenbelt are said to be jewels in a necklace along the river. We want to preserve this land near Barber Pool so it can retain its natural state. It’s like Central Park–a real, natural setting with high visibility. It’s critical to save Barber Pool and try to keep the delicate habitat for future generations. Our campaign has steadily grown and will continue to provide a platform for protecting and enhancing Barber Pool. We look forward to pursuing a wonderful vision for the people of Idaho.”
The people of Idaho are lucky that Mr. Leasure has that vision.
For more information or to contribute:
Jan Johns, Executive Director
Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands