For Eagle's sports park, bumps keep coming

Amid conflict over terrain park plans, Ada County orders work stopped on a new bike trail.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comOctober 2, 2013 

Earlier this year the city of Eagle and the Boise Area Mountain Bike Association started putting together plans to add a mountain bike trail at the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex off Horseshoe Bend Road.

The city put up $30,000 and BAMBA raised $10,000. They hired Gravity Logic out of Whistler, B.C., to design the half-mile flow trail and contracted with 402Trails in Virginia to build it. Designed for riders of all abilities, the trail is to feature berms, rollers and other constructed features.

The good news? Crews started work this week.

The bad news? Ada County posted a stop-work order Tuesday.

The problem? Ada County owns the park's land. The county leases it to the city for $1 a year for use as a public park. But the city didn't check with Ada County, the landlord, about building the half-mile mountain bike trail.

"The problem is communication. The county is not against this trail," Ada County Commission Chairman Dave Case said Wednesday. "We are just trying to get them to abide by the lease and county code."

Case says the lease agreement requires the city to get approval to change the contour or condition of the property. Under county code, any work done on slopes with 15 percent or higher grade requires review by the county engineer.

Even though the county owns the entire park, some of the land has been annexed into the city and falls under city development rules. The portion of the park not annexed falls under county development rules. Trail construction was taking place on land under county jurisdiction, Case said.

What does Eagle say? It doesn't have to ask for the county's permission. It says improving the park's trail system is allowed under the lease agreement, and county code has an exemption for trails that do not exceed 5 feet in width.

A letter that Eagle Mayor Jim Reynolds sent to the county Wednesday said the city spent $1.7 million on park improvements since 1998 and is slated to spend another $255,000 this year.

"Your stop-work order is a direct assault on the city and the community's efforts in improving the park," Reynolds wrote.

More conflict. Case said this is the second time this year the county has learned of Eagle making changes at the park without county input or approval.

In August, the city approved a contract with a private business, Gateway Parks, to build a tubing hill/terrain park, including snowmaking equipment and a conveyer belt-style lift. The county said the city did not ask to install such equipment on county-owned property, and the first meeting between the two entities to discuss the project occurred after the city approved the contract.

Case said the county didn't learn about the bike trail construction until a few days ago.

"We are trusting the city of Eagle to keep us informed," Case said.

Why the interest now? Eagle City Councilwoman Mary Defayette said the city has done numerous trail-building projects at the park without county input or review. "We did $20,000 of trail work last year," she said. "Ada County did not have any interest in this park until now."

What happens next? On Thursday, the county engineer will visit the site to review the bike trail plans.

On Wednesday, the county commissioners and Eagle City Council will meet at 2 p.m. at the courthouse public hearing room to discuss the terrain park and the lease agreement at the sports park. Case said there are three options: Rework the lease agreement to allow for new uses; terminate the lease agreement; or have the city buy the land from the county.

"My hope is we can all sit down and work this out," Case said.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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