Reader's View: Ada County commissioners give their side of the Eagle park story

October 24, 2013 

This past month, the city of Eagle, along with a private partner, came before the Board of County Commissioners for the first time with a formal presentation to develop a winter terrain park at the intersection of Old Horseshoe Bend and Floating Feather roads.

This park is located on property owned by Ada County but leased to the city of Eagle, which has the responsibility to maintain the park.

We’d like to discuss Ada County’s concerns regarding the terrain park proposed by the city of Eagle and local business partner Ryan Neptune, and provide some background on the terms of the existing agreement.

The agreement with the city of Eagle does not allow for a commercial business and this property was never intended to be used for a commercial business.

Since the lease agreement does not cover commercial use, the agreement would have to be renegotiated were the project to move forward.

The lease agreement with the city of Eagle is a completely different type of contract than others that the county has entered into, including the contract with Epley’s to run a raft and tube rental service at Barber Park, and the lease with Treasure Valley Racing to operate Les Boise Park for pari-mutuel horse racing, which were written for seasonal, for-profit ventures, addressing liability and a return on investment of the land’s use to the citizens who own it.

Under lease terms, development was to occur only with prior approval from the county, and maintenance of the property was understood by everyone to be the responsibility of Eagle. That is partly why the county agreed to lease the land for just $1 a year. Nevertheless, as the land owner, Ada County has invested more than $400,000 into the property for projects and maintenance costs, about 20 percent of what has been spent by the city and county combined since the lease began.

As public officials, we have a fiduciary obligation to ensure responsible use of our public lands. Beyond that we have a responsibility to ensure the general health, safety and welfare of the public. The city has provided the county preliminary reports and concept plans that are insufficient to fully evaluate a commercial venture of this magnitude. Furthermore, the public deserves an opportunity to vet concerns, which we believe has not been achieved.

With all of the issues at hand, Ada County must protect our taxpayers from liability for a commercial business venture proposed by another government entity that we don’t feel has been fully evaluated.

Despite the tough position we’ve been placed in, given Eagle’s firm desire to build a terrain park at this particular location, the county has initiated discussions about the possibility of selling all, or a portion of, this land to the city, in an attempt to reach a satisfactory resolution for both sides. This property is publicly owned, and it is not appropriate to move forward on such a project without taking all potential issues, public concerns and liabilities into consideration. We’re working to complete our due diligence in that regard, and have been thanked by countless citizens for taking that responsibility seriously. We hope those involved in the proposal of this project will understand and respect that, and do their own due diligence as well.

We have all lived here most of our lives. We all have children who have enjoyed the many recreational opportunities available in this great area, and a couple of us have grandchildren who will soon be doing the same. So we’re not against youth, not against recreation, and certainly not against seeing Eagle reach its full potential, including economically. We want a community that we can all be proud of for generations to come and to achieve that we need to do this the right way.

Board of Ada County Commissioners — Dave Case, chairman; Jim Tibbs, commissioner and Rick Yzaguirre, commissioner.

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