Eagle uses seizure law for segment of Greenbelt

The city has been in talks with Laguna Pointe residents for more than a year and a half.

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comApril 15, 2014 

The contested 1-mile stretch of Greenbelt near Laguna Pointe subdivision in Eagle.

The battle over a 1-mile stretch of Greenbelt in Eagle is headed to court.

The Eagle City Council on Friday authorized the city to begin eminent domain proceedings to acquire easements that guarantee public access along the pathway. The decision to use seizure laws was made after three property owners - Laguna Pointe Homeowners Association, Premier Industrial LLC and Jade Development LLC - rejected or didn't respond to the city's offer to purchase the property, Eagle officials said. The nine parcels total 64,000 square feet (about an acre and a half).

"We've tried to be reasonable about this all the way through. We just want the pathway," Mayor Jim Reynolds said Monday. "They've been very good about delaying. It looked like this was going to go on and on and on."

The Laguna Pointe path, which is on the south side of the South Boise River, is a much-desired east-west corridor for bicyclists and walkers in the Treasure Valley. It offers the city-to-city connectivity that Greenbelt users love.

Eagle Parks Director Mike Aho, who started work in November 2012, said his first day on the job involved meeting with Laguna Pointe residents about the path. They didn't want to see it paved, as connecting sections in Boise and Garden City had been, Aho said.

The 2006 development agreement for Laguna Pointe required the creation of a public path.

Laguna Pointe homeowners want the path - which is entirely on private property - to be moved away from homes and closer to the Boise River. That would place the trail within the original easement, said Chad Lamer, attorney for the Laguna Pointe Homeowners Association.

"Where possible, let's put the trail within the easement and not spend taxpayer dollars on property that the city doesn't own," said Lamer. "The city has refused to do that. They said they're going to keep the trail in its current location."

Lamer said path users would likely prefer easier access to the river.

Councilman Mark Butler said that wetlands prevent easy realignment of the path.

"Whether (the Army) Corps of Engineers would even allow that is a big issue," Eagle City Attorney Susan Buxton said.

Buxton said there were many other issues of contention, including parking, access, use, path materials, hours of operation and signage. She said the eminent domain lawsuit will be filed in 4th District Court this week.

Both Aho and Butler said they'd been on the path with their bicycles in recent weeks. The trickiest section is crossing a river overflow channel; a collapsed bridge that had been there was removed. A single beam remains for path users to cross the channel, which is currently about a foot or so deep.

"I did a loop into Boise and back," Aho said. "It was a great ride."

The Laguna Pointe subdivision is just east of Eagle Road and surrounds a 43-acre lake. The Boise River is just to the north:

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