Converting Eagle path to Greenbelt slow going

At issue is a new footbridge to replace one that collapsed.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comAugust 14, 2013 

Eagle Councilman Mark Butler has received numerous calls and texts in recent weeks about the status of the Greenbelt near the Laguna Pointe subdivision.

The public path has become an albatross for the city officials, who have been negotiating easements and other issues with the Laguna Pointe homeowners association since last year. The path, narrow and choked by greenery in some sections, was obstructed for months by the collapsed bridge.

Now, that bridge — built years ago across an overflow channel without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — has been removed. It disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, city officials say.

“It was kind of a phantom bridge,” said Eagle Parks Director Mike Aho. “It was never authorized.”

Now, two boards span the brook. It is passable on the planks or by wading through the water, but water is at least a foot deep and moving at a pretty good clip.

The city has asked the Corps of Engineers to review the site to determine if and where a bridge can be constructed. It’s unclear how long that will take, but no one is using the word “soon.”

City officials say they have enough money allocated for Greenbelt use that they could cover the cost of the bridge. There’s also a possibility they could move an existing bridge.

If the Corps of Engineers rejects the bridge, then what?

City officials say there could be other options, including stepping stones or just letting people ford the stream.

Aho and Butler recommend that people stay off the path for now.

“I believe you’re better off not using it until we get it cleaned up, cleared and signed,” said Butler, who has fielded calls from people who are livid that it’s taking so long to get the path ready.

The path is at the tail end of a five-mile section of pathway south of the Boise River between Glenwood Street in Garden City and Eagle Road in Eagle, an important link for those who want to travel between the cities on foot or two wheels. The west-end access to the path off Eagle Road is near the backyards of a few homes in the subdivision. (Scroll to bottom of story for video of the path and the area of the former bridge crossing)

When paving was finished on the Garden City end of the path last year, more people began using the path. The Laguna Pointe HOA took issue with the public using the path, particularly bicycles, city officials said.

One issue was a locked gate on the east edge of Laguna Pointe. The gate owner told city officials he intended to keep the gate locked; path users have created an alternate route around it.

The homeowners also sought to ban bicycles, though the path was intended for multiple uses.

City officials have negotiated on easements, but they aren’t backing down on keeping it open to all users.

“I represented the developers — I was on the private side when this got approved,” said Butler, a land planner. “I know all the details about how it’s supposed to be. ... We have a public right to walk over there and ride our bikes.”

But not until there’s a new bridge, city officials advise.

Why not put up signs, warning people about the hazards? Or that the path may be impassable for people who don’t want to wade?

Aho said the Laguna Pointe HOA is negotiating in good faith with the city, and he fears that putting up signs or clearing, widening, or making the path gravel might create animosity.

“We have a tentative agreement about the pathway,” Aho said. “The piece that’s still hanging out there is the bridge.”

Added Butler: “Government is really slow, we all know that. But the city is really active with trying to get a resolution.”

Katy Moeller: 377-6413

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service