Ada County has posted a sign, ordering work stoppage at an Eagle Site, where City of Eagle officials had hoped to develop new bike trails. But the County's order says that any grading, filling, clearing or excavating "is hereby ordered to stop."
The City of Eagle has a 99 year lease for use of a public park on approximately 85 acres of Ada County-owned land which a half-mile north of East Floating Feather Road off of North Horseshoe Bend Road. In particular, Eagle has its eye on seven of those acres at the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex. The proposed park, designed by world class sports park architect and Boise native Ryan Neptune, would include a terrain park, sled hill, snow-making equipment, water retention pond and wake board cable park. Additionally, Eagle has contracted with a company called Gravity Logic to construct new bike trails on land that is part of the remaining 85 acres.
"Our [Ada County] engineers have some questions and concerns regarding the slope on the back-slope of the ridge where that bike trail would be built," Ada County Commissioners' Chief of Staff Larry Maneely told Boise Weekly."This work stoppage sign has nothing to do with the proposed snow park. It should be noted that the land is completely owned by Ada County, not the City of Eagle."
Meanwhile, Maneely said Ada County Commissioners were scheduled to sit down with officials from the City of Eagle regarding the proposed snow park in an information-gathering meeting on Wednesday, October 9.
Ada County Commissioners have indicated that they're reluctant to let the park plans move forward because it would would be a for-profit enterprise on public land. Maneely added that the City of Eagle had not secured approval for construction on the land.
Proponents of the snow park argue that Ada County already supports recreational for-profit arrangements including Epley's Rental at Barbar Park, Les Bois horse racing operation at the fairgrounds and professional baseball at Hawks Stadium. But Maneely says those operations were approved through a "public/private for-profit partnership" that required a special contractual arrangement with Ada County.
"If we need to renegotiate the agreement with the City of Eagle for such a partnership, so be it, but until then we want to sit down and discuss the plans and that's what we'll do next Wednesday afternoon," said Maneely.
Late Wednesday, Ada County Commissioners released a copy of a letter that they sent to Eagle Mayor Jim Reynolds regarding the cease and desist sign:
Mayor Jim Reynolds
P.O. Box 1520
Eagle, Idaho 83616
RE:Cease and Desist Request
Dear Mayor Reynolds:
It recently came to the attention of the Board of Ada County Commissioners that Gravity Logic, a company based out of Whistler, British Columbia, is currently in the process of constructing a new bike trail, specifically a “flow trail.” Ada County confirmed that the new flow trail is located on the land leased to the City of Eagle for the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex.
Pursuant to Article I, Section 18 of the “Lease Agreement between Ada County and the City of Eagle for Ada-Eagle Sports Complex” (“Lease Agreement”), the City of Eagle is prohibited from changing the contour or condition of the leased property, unless authorized by Ada County. Ada County has not been involved in any aspect of the planning process for the new flow trail. In fact, until just a few days ago, Ada County was unaware that a new trail was even being considered. Further, despite repeated attempts of Ada County’s legal counsel to find out more information, counsel for the City of Eagle has failed to respond to Ada County’s inquiries about the new trail. Accordingly, the Board of Ada County Commissioners has practically no knowledge about the flow trail, and it has not authorized construction of such trail, as required by the Lease Agreement.
Ada County is, therefore, requesting that the City of Eagle and Gravity Logic immediately cease and desist with any construction of a new bike trail on the leased property. Ada County considers any construction on the leased property that changes the contour or condition of the land and that is not pre-authorized by Ada County as a breach of the Lease Agreement, which agreement can be terminated by Ada County upon six months written notice.
Given the recent issues with the proposed Eagle Terrain Park and the new flow trail, it is evident that Ada County and the City of Eagle have conflicting interpretations of the Lease Agreement. As such, Ada County believes that the Lease Agreement needs to be re-negotiated in order to clarify the County and City’s respective expectations.
The leased property, in Ada County’s view, was a government-to-government donation of land to be used by the public free of charge. The original proposed uses for the land included things such as softball and soccer fields, a fitness trail, a Frisbee golf course, picnic areas, a dog park, horseshoe pits, volleyball and basketball courts, and an amphitheater. A seven-acre, pay-to-play terrain park was not the type of use contemplated by Ada County when it entered into the Lease Agreement.
Additionally, the proposed “concessionaire” agreement with Ryan Neptune is unlike other Ada County concessionaire agreements, such as Epley’s, in that those concessionaire agreements were procured through competitive processes in which multiple vendors were given the opportunity to bid for the County contracts. Further, Ada County’s agreement with Epley’s, for example, does not require the public to pay for use of County land. Instead, County residents may rent equipment from Epley’s, if they so choose, but they do not have to pay to float the Boise River. The floating access points are designed so that the public may float the Boise River free of charge.
In stark contrast, the terrain park proposed by Mr. Neptune contemplates charging the public to use seven acres of land that was previously designated as land to be used by the general public for recreational purposes, free of charge. Pursuant to Mr. Neptune’s proposal, in the wintertime, Ada County residents would not be allowed to access the proposed seven-acre park unless they paid an admission fee. In the summertime, the public would have to pay an admission fee to use the proposed wakeboard park. It is unclear if the remaining portion of the proposed terrain park would be open to the public free of charge in the summertime.
Use of public property for profit-making activities may be appropriate. However, a comprehensive discussion of these types of uses on the leased property between the City of Eagle’s elected representatives and the Ada County Commissioners, in whose care the property has been placed, has yet to occur. It is customary for a tenant to seek permission from a landlord prior to using leased property for purposes that the landlord may find inappropriate and especially prior to entering into an agreement with a third party for such inappropriate uses.
Finally, in preparation for the October 9, 2013 meeting, Ada County has been conducting its own research about the feasibility of the proposed terrain park. The Board would like to discuss several issues with you and your staff at that meeting. According to the Ada County Highway District (“ACHD”), an application in regards to the proposed terrain park has not been submitted. Accordingly, we invited a representative from ACHD to the meeting to discuss ACHD’s concerns with the project.
Further, according to the director of the Eagle Planning and Zoning Department, Mr. Neptune is required to submit a design review application for the proposed park; however, to date, none has been submitted. We would also like to discuss this aspect of the project.
Additionally, Ada County’s engineer reviewed the Eagle Terrain Snow Park Water Study conducted by SPF Water Engineering and expressed several concerns with the study. Her concerns include, but are not limited to, the rate of recapture, the estimated amount of water and snow needed, and the high potential for damage to the land due to erosion. Ada County’s engineer will also be present at the meeting to express her concerns. An agenda of items to be discussed at the October 9, 2013 meeting will be circulated prior to the meeting.
In the meantime, please cease and desist all construction work for the new flow trail. Before the City of Eagle and/or Gravity Logic may proceed with such work, Ada County needs to receive information about the project so that it can consider whether to authorize the project.
David L. Case, Commissioner
Jim Tibbs, Commissioner
Rick Yzaguirre, Commissioner