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State of the greenbelt

Idaho leaves Greenbelt bike dispute up to Garden City

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The Idaho Land Board recently handed bicycle activists another defeat in their quest to open up a 1.5-mile stretch of Greenbelt in Garden City to cyclists.

The group, Citizens for an Open Greenbelt, had appealed to the Idaho Land Board in August to clarify the proper use of state land conveyed the city in 1980 when Riverside Village was developed.

"The deed issued to Garden City only requires using the public pathway for Greenbelt and public purposes, for the benefit of the public," Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter, who heads the Land Board, said in a statement. "The state found that Garden City has not violated the deed by restricting bicycles. In fact, as the property's titleholder, it is the city's responsibility to decide how to regulate activities in this area."

This was not the answer COG's founder Gary Segers was looking for.

"The goal was for them to tell Garden City that 'you've violated several agreements and therefore, open up the Greenbelt for use by bike riders,'" Segers said.

Garden City Mayor John Evans, who was also involved in the original development of Riverside Village, said the city has no plans to open up the "dismount zone" to riding, and is moving forward with other plans.

"It validated our position that we have the regulatory authority over the parks and greenbelts in town," Evans said.

Garden City plans to build a new Greenbelt bridge at the tip of Eagle Island to provide access to the south side of the river. The plans could be sketched out by spring, Evans said.

The stretch of Greenbelt behind Riverside is still open to walkers and joggers, and Garden City designated an alternate route through neighborhood streets for bicycle commuters, Evans said.

"There's kind of a silent majority that are very happy with it," he said.

Segers is not happy.

"We, all along, had talked about having a sit-down meeting with Garden City and they just completely ignored us," he said. "We're looking for a continuous Greenbelt."

The Land Board said the dispute is a local issue and should be worked out between the city and the cyclists.

"While the board recognizes that this decision does not address the conflict between the city and the bicycle community, this concern must be resolved at the local level," Otter stated.

Segers said his group will meet and could pursue legal action against the city and the state. They have compiled an impressive stack of documents at idahocog.org, and open Greenbelt activists have demonstrated at public events in recent months.

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