City Government

Eagle Offers Ada Land To Theme Park Promoter

In yet another “cart before the horse” project of a local city, Eagle is set to consider an offer Tuesday from a developer to approve a commercial summer/winter theme park on land owned by Ada County–before getting permission from the Ada Commishes.

Ryan Neptune, an officer of Gateway Parks has told the Eagle City Council the plan can come at no cost to the city. The company would retum 10 percent of lift-ticket revenue to the city.

Eagle has a 99 year lease for a “public park” on about 200 acres of county land near the existing landfill. We hate to be harsh, but this deal has overtones of the ill fated Dynamis waste-to-energy deal and it is in the same area…A promoter wishes to go into a commercial business and conjures up a plan to use public assets for private gain. Politicos are eager to have a legacy to show voters, but they got going too fast too soon.

The GUARDIAN talked to Ada Commish Jim Tibbs who said Monday, “Based on my reading of the contract and what little I know of the proposal, it would appear Ada County previously agreed to a lease for a PUBLIC PARK. A facility operated as a commercial enterprise with no cost to the taxpayer would seem on the face of it to be in violation of our agreement with Eagle.”

Hawk Island Park near Lansing, Michigan has operated for 10 years as a popular county park. It was cited by Gateway as one of its previous efforts, but is not as elaborate as the proposed Eagle operation.

According to a Statesman story, Gateway Parks would make about $1 million in improvements to the 200-acre Eagle Sports Complex off Horseshoe Bend Road. Those would include adding a “magic carpet” lift for tubers, snowboarders and mountain bikers, and a multifeature snowboard park.

Key to the plan is turning a large excavated hole that was intended to be the now-defunct Velodrome cycling facility into a 19 million-gallon reservoir. The reservoir would be used for snow making in the winter and “cable wakeboarding” and fire suppression in the summer.

EDITOR NOTE–For clarification: as we understand it, Eagle is simply offering up the County-owned lease ground for development by a private firm. It appears to the GUARDIAN the developer is dealing with the wrong government entity. The lease was intended to allow Eagle to build a PUBLIC PARK, not provide free land to a for-profit private enterprise.

A LETTER FROM NEIGHBORS to the Eagle Parks Director follows.

Mile Aho
Parks and Recreation Director
660 E Civic Lane
PO BOX 1520
Eagle, ID 83616
August 12, 2013
Dear Mr Aho:
We attended the July 2nd Eagle Sports Complex (aka Eagle Terrain Park and Eagle Terrain Snow Park)
Neighborhood Meeting. Your meeting was informative making it very clear that little to no studies have been done to determine the project’s feasibility nor the impact to the bordering residents. It was a rude awakening that such a complex could be proposed for this area. We enjoy the bikers, hikers, joggers, and dog walkers, but the proposed sports complex is for a very specific target group. We feel that the sports complex would turn our safe neighborhood into a carnival that will destroy the topography, increase traffic, and displace the wildlife.

Although we don’t reside in Eagle City, we as Ada County residents are impacted very much by this proposed sports complex. The bordering residents of the complex would be impacted by the water runoff, traffic, noise, light, mosquitoes, potential loss of water in our wells, and waste pollution.
Ada County, who owns the land, would not benefit from this ludicrous idea. In fact, it sounds more like the Dynamis deal.

Increasing the volume of vehicles using Old Horseshoe Bend Road, a dead end road, would increase
congestion, not to mention the increase in the amount of traffic into the Maryglen subdivision. There is no access to Highway 55 on Old Horseshoe Bend Road, yet confused drivers continue to end up lost in our subdivision causing an increase of traffic beyond the current unacceptable level producing a toxic mix of traffic. There have been many accidents at the Horseshoe Bend Road‐ Janie Road curve barrier, some even fatal. Speeding vehicles have caused property damage and are a huge safety concern for our subdivision and all the bikers, walkers, and joggers who use the Maryglen Subdivision roads daily. ACHD is very aware of this current and on‐going problem.

We urge doing a comprehensive feasibility study before you take any more steps in the execution of this sports complex project. A feasibility study would most certainly bring out that the annual average low temperature for this area is 39o F.1 The science doesn’t support that ice will maintain its physical state at 39o F temperature. An average annual low temperature of 39o F is in no way enough to sustain a base layer for skiing or snowboarding slopes. The snow machines will have to be in production 24/7 in order to attempt to maintain a snow base. The proposal doesn’t even address this issue. Using this area is the most ludicrous thing that has been proposed to date.

We don’t approve of wasting water for recreational purposes while living in a semi‐arid desert climate.

Particular concerns include the amount of water required and the water run‐off. Where is the water
coming from? Where is the snow melt run‐off going? What kind of mosquito control will be used in the
reservoirs during the summer months? We are concerned because we have no water to spare for such
frivolous misuse. This snow park would become a slush park for most of the winter. Not only would our
property values plummet if we have no water, but our homes would become uninhabitable. Your
proposal squandeis the very water that we are struggling to keep in our wells’ You’ve equated the
amount of water that is needed for this project against the water needed for 29 homes, thus,
minimizing the amount that the sports complex will consume. The approximate 3.1 million gallons of
water per year needed for this sports complex should not be minimized. We strongly believe that
established residences and our need for water trumps this recreational use.

What about the 19 million gallon reservoir2 that is needed to hold the water? What kind of
comprehensive environmental impact studies will be done regarding the reservoir? What kind of health
issues will this create? All of these concerns need to be addressed before any more consideration is
given to move forward with the sports complex.
When nature doesn’t cooperate by providing natural snow, snowmakers take over. Given water,
electric or diesel energy, and temperatures below 32″F (0″C) snowmakers can provide ,no*t'” Oul.
mean low annual temperature for this area is 39″F. This proposal for a snow sports complex is a bad
idea, and a more appropriate environment that can sustain snow should be found’

We would support projects for the Ada county land if they benefitted the community as a whole all year round without using a tremendous amount of natural resources such as water, and it is free to all. For instance, how about fitness boot camp structures, or a nature walk with paved siletches that could be utilized during inclement weather times to alleviate erosion. Or how about a horse park, or trails? The target audience for the park should be for the general population of kids and adults, not just for skiers.

Ada county land should not be provided for a commercial operation.
Doing feasibility studies “as you go” through the process is the most unprofessional method of doing
business that we’ve heard from our localgovernment. There is not one federal or state agency that
would get even this far without one, so why is the City of Eagle able to do these projects on Ada CountyLand without a feasibility or environmental impact statement? ls Ada County and Eagle City trying to cut corners that much?
The City of Eagle needs to stop ignoring the bordering Ada County residents. The park projects that the Eagle City office seems to dream up impact those that live in Ada County. Please do the necessary
research and feasibility studies before you progress – before you can’t back up – before the irreparable, permanent damage is done, scarring the landscape, not to mention the relationship that you will have with your “Ada County” neighbors. Please consider the traffic and water impact that this project will have on the Ada County Residents by doing your due diligence on this proposal.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Grumpy ole guy
    Aug 26, 2013, 10:56 pm

    hoy boy, why oh why is it that public servants think that they can become entrepreneurs, at no risk? Insurance, liability. risk management, advertising, upkeep, environnemental impact, federal waterways clearances, to say nothing of basic ownership. COME ON BOYS AND GIRLS get your reality checks lined up.

    EDITOR NOTE–For clarification, as we understand it, Eagle is simply offering up the County-owned lease ground for development by a private firm. It appears to the GUARDIAN the developer is dealing with the wrong government entity. The lease was intended to allow Eagle to build a PUBLIC PARK, not provide free land to a for-profit enterprise.

  2. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 27, 2013, 11:27 am

    Seems to me your quote from Mr. Tibbs says everything that needs to be said.

  3. And I bet the developer would pay no property tax on the land value, only the value of the private buildings built.

    This would provide a competitive advantage of cost for this developer, via the government, that other park operators do not have.

    Case in point driving by the city owned golf course which presumably pays no property tax at all, whereas the private golf course pays all property taxes and has to charge higher golf rates as a result.

    Not sure government needs to be in the business owning and operating business, but if they are they should have to do it on the same material terms as private firms.

  4. Aggrieved Party
    Sep 23, 2013, 2:00 pm

    Anyone who lives within earshot of this proposed snow park should be aware that the noise levels generated by snow making machines at night is similar to a loud jet engine whine and just as hard to sleep with.

    It appears that the intended use is not consistent with the standard definition of a public park lease.

    Without a formal objection and judicial oversight begun immediately, this project (like Dynamis did) will gain traction and be more difficult to derail with each passing day.

    Is anyone willing to join me in a challenge to this project?

    EDITOR NOTE–The Ada Commishes seem to be of the opinion–for now at least–the park lease would not permit the commercial venture envisioned by the proposed operator and city of Eagle. We also have concerns about the Eagle contract city attorney flipping sides and representing the developer on this one issue while retaining the city attorney position on other matters.

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