Editor's note: Click here for an opposing viewpoint on the Eagle terrain park.
It would seem that all government agencies in the Treasure Valley would have learned a valuable lesson from the $2 million Ada County lost in the ill-fated Dynamis trash-to-energy debacle. Apparently not.
The Eagle City Council is going down the same road taken by one current and another former Ada County commissioner to get us into the situation that ended up costing the taxpayers a lot of grief and a great deal of money.
In late May, the Eagle council president and the Eagle parks director revealed they had been working with a local theme park developer to build a ski and snowboard terrain park next to old Idaho State Highway 55. Forget that Eagle doesnt own the land and forget that they never bothered to tell Ada County, the landowner, about the proposal until it was already approved in concept. Thats like someone renting your single-family house and turning it into a bed and breakfast without your permission.
Eagle officials say the deal had to be done in private to prevent others from launching a similar venture. Thats the same excuse the county commissioners and Dynamis used to keep so much of that deal away from the taxpayers.
Theres a proper process that should be used to seek, research and approve projects on government- owned land and this one, like Dynamis, doesnt come close. If the Eagle City Council wants to do this project, or any other for that matter, first they should put their thoughts into a bid document. They should lay out exactly what they want, when they want it, what information they need from interested parties to research their backgrounds, and what they expect, at minimum, to get out of the deal. Then, advertise it as widely as possible. Once all of those interested have a chance to bid, then have a committee of experts review the proposals and the applicants.
If voters want to see what happens when you do things right, they need to look no farther than Twin Falls, where one person first expressed interest in following in the footsteps of famous daredevil Evel Knievel. Rather than granting the right to jump over the Snake River Canyon to the first person who asked, the Idaho Department of Lands put it out to bid. Turns out four others wanted to try it. The winning bid was $943,000. And the state also gets a percentage of what the winning bidder makes on the event. Thats far better than Eagles deal.
Finally, the terrain park proposal was brought to one city council member by the developer and his attorney, who coincidentally, also happens to be Eagles attorney. Yes, she declared a conflict of interest. But she didnt resign as Eagles attorney. She simply let someone she recommended continue to advise her clients. But thats another issue. Hopefully, some enterprising reporter can tell us the rest of that story.
As Yogi Berra once said, Its like deja vu all over again.
James Pauls is a retired certified records manager and 15-year Eagle resident.