For almost three decades Garden City officials, homeowners of Riverside Village, and Riverside Village developers have fought to stop bike riding on the 1 1/2 mile stretch of the Boise River Greenbelt in Garden City. On Nov. 6, voters can lift the Garden City bike ban by voting Yes on Initiatives A & B.
The two initiatives are straightforward. Voting yes on Initiative A repeals the city ordinance restricting the use of bicycles on any portion of the Boise River Greenbelt in Garden City. Voting yes on Initiative B provides that any restrictions placed on non-motorized travel on the citys Greenbelt must be approved by the voters.
Mayor John Evans and the City Council falsely claim the path must be paved at a cost of $1.14 million because the initiatives cite public safety. The city must CURRENTLY make the path safe for all users. This path must be properly maintained as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; this has nothing to do with paving the path or the initiatives.
There are no city, state, or federal standards or regulation that mandates that any portion of the Greenbelt be paved, even under the ADA. There is no wording in the initiative that says to safely accommodate users the city must pave the path.
Treasure Valley residents need not look any further than the extensive unpaved yet multiuse Ridge to Rivers trail system in the foothills, the unpaved multiuse Eagle Greenbelt or the recently constructed 3.2 miles of unpaved multiuse path on south side of the Boise River west of Garden City. Our citizens safety doesnt have to come at a price tag of $1.1 million for a paved path.
The history of this section of the Greenbelt sheds light on Garden Citys steadfast refusal to open the Riverside Village section of the Greenbelt to bicycle use. Both as a private individual and public official, Evans fought to stop the Riverside Village bike path from being a reality. He was the development manager of the Riverside Village subdivision for Idaho Forest Industries (IFI) and Evans Brothers Construction, who oversaw construction of the Riverside Village in 1985. These entities received your state land in exchange for their promise to build a Greenbelt that was to be open to bicycle use. Not only did Evans Brothers fail to construct the Greenbelt, they posted signs informing the public that this land was now a private section of Greenbelt. In 1994 the State of Idaho filed suit against IFI and Evans Brothers Construction for failing to complete the Greenbelt to enable bicycles to utilize it and for prohibiting public access. Subsequently, Mr. Evans negotiated on behalf of IFI and Evans Brothers to settle the states 1994 lawsuit.
During the time Mr. Evans was negotiating a settlement, he wore a second hat as the Garden City planning and zoning commissioner (1992 to 1995). In 2005, as a Garden City City Council member, he proposed the ordinance closing the Greenbelt to bikes and, as mayor, supported its enactment in 2007.
The Boise River Greenbelt should be a truly open Greenbelt for all users. This was the intention of those visionaries who first contemplated the Boise River Greenbelt system. Garden City elected officials have made a decision that serves the interests of Riverside Village homeowners at the expense of the rest of our citizens as well as our adjoining communities to the east and west. Be a good neighbor and vote yes on Initiatives A & B and give the power back to the people to manage our Greenbelt.
Readers can find more about this issue by going to www.idahocog.org.
Gary Segers is the founder of the Citizens for an Open Greenbelt and a resident of Garden City.