Rec & Sports » Rec Features

Park and Ride

Ski, board, wakeboard park may be coming to Eagle


Since its creation, the Eagle Sports Complex has had the attention of many recreationists in the community. A skate park, basketball court, BMX track, skills park and myriad mountain bike trails have been popular; however, the anticipated addition of a cycling velodrome has not fared as well--remaining unfinished years after the original pit was excavated.

Now, retired professional snowboarder Ryan Neptune of Planet Snow--a Boise-based terrain park consulting and construction company--has set his sights on the complex for the creation of a wakeboarding summer facility and jib park/tubing hill in the winter. His vision for a comprehensive sports facility with affordable access to many popular activities has been generally well received, but still faces an extensive vetting process by the city of Eagle.

Thus far, the Eagle City Council and Parks and Pathways Committee have both indicated that they will support the project, but nothing will be set in stone until Neptune's contract proposal has been thoroughly reviewed and put to a vote.

The project, as envisioned, would include the renovation of the existing skate park, plus the addition of snow-making equipment, a tubing hill, magic carpet, jib park and utilizing the now defunct velodrome pit for a shallow 19-million gallon wakeboarding reservoir with a cable tow line. Day passes are proposed to run about $15 and season passes are expected to cost about $100. Neptune's company and its sponsors will front the approximate $1 million price tag for the project, and the city of Eagle would receive 10 percent of gross revenue from the facility.

Eagle Parks and Recreation Director Mike Aho believes that the facility, if realized as planners hope, could be a good thing for the area.

"At this point in time with the information that they have, they [the Eagle City Council] are supporting the concept" said Aho.

As for the proposal itself, Aho is confident that the project has been well thought out but is awaiting additional feedback from the city's legal staff, City Council members and the community before formulating an official opinion.

At its June 11 meeting, the Eagle City Council accepted public testimony on the proposal, with the majority presenting a neutral position. Some, however, voiced concern over many aspects of the project, including parking, increased traffic, snow-making noise, displacement of wildlife and water consumption--although few came out in outright opposition.

Jonathan Marder of Eagle expressed concerns about some of the operational aspects of the project.

"All my life I have hated the acronym of NIMBY," he said. "I've never wanted to be one, but then again, I've never had anything like an amusement park proposed to be in my backyard. We wonder what kind of neighbor Ryan and this company are planning to be. ... It's going to make a significant change to our lives."

Tarek Richey of Boise said that the expansion of the facility would be a promising addition to the Treasure Valley, giving area ski/board/wakeboard shops a shot in the arm, as well as boosting the popularity of action sports for a new generation of riders.

"The park is the future of both wakeboarding and snowboarding. With the cost of boats and the cost of transportation even up to Bogus, it's making these sports unobtainable. I'm an advocate," he said.

In response to parking concerns, Neptune noted that the facility has more than adequate parking available, and even has room to expand if need be. As for noise concerns, Neptune said the type of snow gun he plans to use "has the noise equivalency at 50 feet away of the standard dishwasher in your house. The closest house from that snow gun is 1,000 feet away."

Regarding concerns about wildlife, Neptune stated bluntly that, "This is a sports complex. It was never, ever, ever supposed to be a nature reserve. It's not a part of the design of the footprint. What we're building into is less than a quarter of a percent of the 240-acre footprint."

His matter-of-fact rebuttal may have seemed glib, but his willingness to put funds toward specific conservation efforts adjacent to the complex has gained Neptune the support of the folks responsible for the Healthy Hills Initiative.

As for water usage, he quickly noted, "the amount of water that we're going to consume is the equivalent of 1.5 baseball fields per year. We're not pulling from local wells. ... We're pulling from city of Eagle water."

The official contract has been submitted for review by the city's legal staff, and will be up for approval in the coming weeks. If successful, Eagle will likely see a completed facility by the end of the summer.

"We expect anywhere between 60-90 days for completion on the work" said Neptune.