Ada County's loss—at least for now—is Eagle Island State Park's gain.
Saying that Ada County commissioners have made "a mountain out of a mole hill," Idaho native and world-class ski park developer Ryan Neptune says he's taking three snow-making machines meant for a proposed terrain park at the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex to Eagle Island State Park, along with snow gear rentals.
There have been nearly three months of finger-pointing in the dispute over the city of Eagle's effort to construct a terrain park and sled hill—all designed by Neptune—but Ada County commissioners still aren't satisfied with all of the details surrounding the proposal.
The city of Eagle has a 99-year lease for use of a public park on approximately 85 acres of Ada County-owned land, located 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 for its snow terrain facility.
Ada County commissioners have indicated that they're reluctant to let the park plans move forward because it would be a for-profit enterprise on public land. Ada County officials added that the city of Eagle had not secured approval for construction on the land.
But 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 operations at the fairgrounds, and professional baseball at Hawks Stadium. But those operations were approved through a "public/private for-profit partnership" that required a special contractual arrangement with Ada County.
“The whole thing is just so crazy, and it’s all over a snow field,” Neptune told the Press. “It’s a snow field. (The commissioners) are so willing to run into these types of business arrangements with other entities, like the gambling (machines proposed at Les Bois Park), but they’re not willing to do it over a place were kids can go play? Oh my gosh, it’s crazy.”
Officials with Ada County and the city of Eagle are expected to meet again on the issue sometime in January.
Meanwhile, Neptune said he's moving his equipment over to Eagle Island State Park.