Eagle explores solution for terrain park

The city wants to buy some or all of the land it leases from the county.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comOctober 10, 2013 

Over the next 95 years, the city of Eagle will pay Ada County $1 a year to lease about 300 acres of county-owned land for the Ada-Eagle Sports Complex, a regional bike and sports park.

Ada pays no money for park upkeep or improvements; Eagle taxpayers pick up those costs. But the county said it still bears the burden of liability because it owns the land.

This is just one of the reasons the county is leery of the city's plans to let Gateway Parks, a private business owned by Boise native and renowned snowboarder Ryan Neptune, pay for and operate a $1 million snow tubing and snowboard park on about 7 acres of the park's land. In exchange, the city would get 10 percent of all lift ticket sales.

"I don't want to be in a position where I am creating more liability for the citizens of Ada County," Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs said during a joint Wednesday meeting with the Eagle City Council over the proposed terrain park. "For us, we are concerned about the liability issue."

The city of Eagle wants to explore a solution that relieves the county of its liability and lets the city pursue its dream: buying the park.

"The county is looking at getting about $95 out of that property over the next 100 years, but you still carry the liability," Eagle City Councilwoman Mary Defayette told the Ada County commissioners.

And the value of the park to the city? "It has become the soul of our town," Defayette said.

"The upside to selling it to us is you lose all the liability. All the liability falls to us," she said.

Even though Eagle taxpayers support the park, it is a regional benefit, Defayette said, drawing bike riders and other users from around the valley. Since it is a regional public benefit, "the county could justify donating or selling the park at a bargain to the city," she said.

The commissioners said they were willing to explore if a sale is possible. If so, negotiations about acreage and price would take place.

If a sale agreement cannot be reached, the city and county must hammer out a new lease agreement because the county says the proposed terrain park is not allowable under the current lease - something the city disagrees with. This could take some time.

Ada County Commission Chairman Dave Case said he understands some people may be frustrated by the length of time it takes to go through government approval processes.

"Through these processes, what it brings out is a project destined to succeed, not to fail," Case said. "Some folks refer to it as bureaucracy, but to me, taking the time to look into these things is protecting the public."

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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