City Government

Open Space Advocate On Bike Park Decision

Katie Fite
Public Lands Director
WildLands Defense

The Boise City Planning and Zoning Commission failed to uphold two separate Appeals of permits for Hillside Grading and Flood Plain development to allow construction of a two million dollar Mountain Bike Park in Military Reserve. The Albertson’s Family Foundation would pay for construction, taxpayers for a new Dog Park, bathroom and maintenance. The Foundation wanted the deal kept secret, and City leaders obliged – placing it on a consent agenda at a March 13, 2018 Council meeting. Neighboring property owners were never notified.

The East End Neighborhood Association filed an Appeal of the permits because of the lack of public process and permit deficiencies. The East End knows something about process failures and having officials ignore public concerns. The St. Luke’s expansion cut off their neighborhood from downtown, and created a traffic nightmare which Bike Park traffic would make worse.

An Appeal by conservation groups (WildLands Defense, Friends of Military Reserve and Great Old Broads for Wilderness) highlighted the natural, historical and aesthetic values of Boise’s first Open Space Reserve, the lack of public process in determining the location and development of a Bike Park, and the failure to consider the conflicts and public safety risks associated with putting a Bike Park in a Flood Basin. The Basins were built for public safety in the very erodible and flood prone Cottonwood Creek watershed in response to past severe flood events. 

Public testimony at the P&Z meeting is here. . The P&Z Commission spent minimal time discussing the merits of the Appeals before reaching a unanimous decision to deny the Appeals. Their decision is quite likely to be Appealed to City Council.

Plans for the “world class” Bike Park show the Flood Basin will be excavated as much as 15 feet. Large volumes of dirt will be piled up into a “wave field” of bike trails. Some are to be paved, but much of the project is dirt that will erode when flood waters hit, or get worn down over time. A spectator amphitheater is also planned. 

The Treasure Valley already has a much larger “world class” Bike Park, the Ada County/Eagle Bike Park. The Foothills surrounding it are shredded with bike trails. This is what will be the inevitable fate of Military Reserve and nearby Open Space areas if the Bike Park gets built. The City and the Albertsons’ Consultant know there already is very heavy public use of the Reserve by walkers, people with dogs, and bikes. Despite this, three new exclusive downhill mountain bike only Thrill Trails have already been proposed — feeding in towards the proposed Bike Park site. A several mile long trail through Highland Land and Livestock (Little family) land and BLM lands is being planned just north of the Reserve. The second trail is near Center Ridge and within the northern Reserve. The third trail would blemish the face of Eagle Ridge, which looks out over the City. The Thrill Trails within the Reserve seem to have been beaten back for now. But they are likely to re-surface if this facility gets built, and spillover use and conflicts explode across the Reserve. There is also concern that the Bike Park and various Thrill Trails are for holding X-Game type events in the Reserve and Foothills.

Reserves are to be managed for their natural, ecological values. The City has been straying from this for quite some time. Trail density has increased greatly, and wildlife habitat has deteriorated. The Reserve is on the National Register of Historic places and a city-recognized Local Historical Landmark. The Bike Park has not even been considered by the Parks and Recreation Commission or Historic Preservation Commission.

The debate over siting a Bike Park in Military Reserve is about the future of Foothills Open Space, and whether the public will have a voice in its fate. Will places people worked so hard for so long to protect suddenly be turned over for amusement park type uses based on secret City deals with monied interests — without any legitimate public process?

Long time Boise Parks Board member Alice Dieter, now 90 years old, recently expressed her views on Open Space protection:
“I just can’t believe that anybody is still talking about putting stuff in Open Space. After we fought so long and so hard and had so many problems for Open Space … And you get it, and somebody wants to fill it up because it’s Open. It’s not the way to go.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Transparancy
    Jul 15, 2018, 12:04 pm

    Thank you Katie! This Bike Park “Decision” is appalling as a total disregard for an open political process. Most of us know that Idaho’s Notice Requirements are a sham. What we need to find out is who is responsible for placing this matter on a consent agenda. TJ can you enlighten us? The Boise City P&Z is not an elected “governing board” and may have broken Idaho law with it’s two denials. P&Z commissions are advisory boards and the scope of its power is limited. A better process is needed to inform the public and to encourage its input. Consent agendas are for efficiency and not for disregarding the democratic process.

  2. Katie –

    The Mayor and City Council have disregarded boards, laws, ordinances, right and wrong, testimony at hearings, votes and the voters for years.

    There is little chance if any that they will change.

    So what? As we have seen not enough people seem to care or hold them accountable and until they do your comments are futile and they will continue as they have.

  3. There’s a delicious irony in the Albertson family’s practicing the very subterfuge they decry when it comes to a stadium being built in THEIR backyard.

  4. western guy
    Jul 15, 2018, 9:59 pm

    It’s time for the Mayor and his patsy Boise City Council (but they won’t do it) to have an open house for an entire afternoon to take questions and provide answers to a variety of projects and ideas: Folly Trolly, bike park, growth task force, etc.

    And why does the Mayor’s bag man, Jade Riley, need to bash other city governments (and ACHD) in the recent Statesman article? And why does the former newspaper print that scurrilous material, anyway?

  5. I do think it takes a notice and a hearing to take a reserve and give it to the bikers. The parks and historic commissions are if you think, still under the city umbrella. Nobody speaks for their own mission if you will, under the umbrella of the city. The city again breaks the rules and requires the citizens to fight in the courts.

    Is everybody getting cabin stop by’s with the mayor and getting their tanks filled while they’re there? You’ll go see papa because he makes it easy to do so.

    I just think that the mayor is so nice to the individuals he is nice to, such as his key employees, that nobody wants to be left out of that social circle at city hall. That’s where the raises and promotions are.

    Albertsons’ are bleeding money but want to do things that outrage some citizens. Albertsons’ foundation is in support of high tech developers that run counter to the needs of the public schools – Albertson wants on-line ed, not schools, but wants a physical expensive library?

    Tit for tat. Nothing is as it seems. or should I say TIT for Tat?

    I want the city to change the system to one of a city manager leaving mayoral politics in the rear view mirror. How can that be done?

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