The City of Eagle completed two deals this week to pave the way for up to two new parks in the Boise foothills, one a shooting range and the other a sports park.
In a special meeting on Tuesday, the Eagle City Council met for a special meeting and took up two items: A donation of 603 acres to the city for the possible site of a sprawling shooting sports park and the purchase and plan to spend $10 million on purchasing land for a sports complex. Both deals were done with GWC Capital, the Utah-based developer behind the foothills planned community Spring Valley.
Eagle officials unanimously approved both deals, lauding the protection of open space and the possibility for protection of habitat migration and endangered species in the Boise foothills. Officials were also pleased with the opportunity to move ahead with plans for a nearly 100-acre sports park off of Highway 16, which was once slated for homes.
Both parcels have been appraised, but they were not available to the public prior to the vote. City officials say the appraised value was millions over the assessed values listed in county records for 2022.
However, several residents came to the meeting and raised questions about why these deals were done in a special meeting with limited notice days before Christmas instead of a regular meeting when more residents might see it. William Ziebell told city council members this meeting is likely one more reason residents could support the ongoing petition to recall Mayor Jason Pierce and all four members of city council.
“Twenty-four-hour notice, special meeting, held on a work day, in the week leading up to Christmas, talking about a $10 million purchase agreement,” Ziebell said. “It doesn’t leave a lot of room for full disclosure, especially if you can’t see documents until after the deal is done.”
Pierce responded to concerns about the special meeting, noting that the land deals with GWC Capital are not public hearing items the public could weigh in on.
“There’s no public input on these contracts or agreements, so what would it matter if we held the meeting in January or held it today?” he said. “And then there are tax purposes for GWC wanting to have things done before the end of the year.”
Eagle pulls trigger on land purchase for sports park
For the past two years, the City of Eagle has been working towards building a sports park with baseball fields, open sports fields, tennis and pickle ball courts and other amenities near the foothills.
The new park is planned for the intersection of Idaho 16 and Equest Lane over 96 acres north of Farmers Union Canal. The park encompasses several parcels owned by GWC Capital once slated for large lot residential development, but now sold to Eagle for park development. The city also purchased one ten-acre parcel in the middle of the area from a private landowner for $2 million over the summer.
All told, the city has planned to spend roughly $12 million preparing the park for development so far. The first $2.4 million was spent over the past two years on feasibility studies, preliminary engineering and purchasing one of the parcels of land. This came from park impact fees paid for by developers to accommodate growth.
Tuesday’s roughly $10 million purchase agreement includes $2.5 million in cash payment for land acquisition and another $7.9 in impact fees reimbursed to GWC Capital. This means the company will pay its impact fees to the city and the city will return them as compensation.
But, Eagle Long Rang Planner Nichoel Baird Spencer said the developer will only be reimbursed for impact fees it generates as it builds the project out. This means if Spring Valley is never fully completed, GWC will not be reimbursed more impact fees than the project paid.
Savings from the pedestrian bridge planned over the Boise River along Eagle Road, which was paid for with unexpected federal funds. In comparison, Baird Spencer pointed out the city sold a once-planned 35-acre park site off of Floating Feather Road for $9.1 million and this sale will net the city an 84-acre site for $10.4 million.
As of the publication of this story, Eagle had not provided BoiseDev with the appraisal for the properties. But, a review of the parcels’ recent assessed values on the Ada County Assessor’s website showed a total value of the area of at least $3.9 million in 2022. One of the parcels listed on Eagle’s agenda was invalid and it is unknown what it is worth, so the exact total assessed value of the property could not be precisely calculated.
The park is roughly 30% designed so far with 8 baseball fields, five flat fields and hard surface tennis/pickleball courts along with a ten-acre trailhead access to nearby trails on publicly owned lands.
At an April 2021 Eagle City Council meeting when the city finalized the sale of the park on Floating Feather, Pierce noted that park was one of the only parks the city had purchased with taxpayer funds, instead of having it donated by developers.
“I really think the developers should be paying for these things moving forward,” he said, about parks.
Shooting sports park land donated
The other deal done this week paves the way for the possibility of a shooting sports park near Willow Creek Road.
This project, which has been the subject of hot debate about environmental impact and noise for nearby subdivisions and equestrians who enjoy using the area, has not yet been approved by Eagle City Council. But, if it is approved, the 40-acre project would go on part of the 603 acres donated to the City of Eagle from GWC Capital.
The project proposal as it stands now includes separate ranges for archery and 3D archery, ranges for rifles, shotguns and pistols as well as a separate locked law enforcement range for training. The city completed an environmental evaluation and a noise study for the area.
City staff says there is an appraisal for the 603 acres valuing the property at over $5 million, but as of the publication of this story it had not yet been provided to BoiseDev. A review of the assessments for the parcels from 2022 on the Ada County Assessor’s website shows a total value for the area of roughly $39,500.
Regardless of if the shooting range goes through, Eagle Mayor Jason Pierce said the donation of the property will connect to acres of Bureau of Land Management and State of Idaho-owned property in the area, securing open space for generations to come.
“This is going to be huge for the City of Eagle and ensures we get some of this private land into public ownership,” he said. “We talk about how many people have used this piece of property and making sure stays open to the public forever is going to be huge. I’m really glad we’re able to do this.”