July 18, 2016
- John Evans
- Bob Henry
- Nathan Leigh
- Joe Stear
- Rick Yzaguirre
Staff and Guests
- Tim Breuer – Executive Director, Land Trust of the Treasure Valley
- Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership
Commissioner Yzaguirre welcomed everyone to this month’s meeting.
Nampa Golf Courses & Idaho Center
Bob asked if people had been keeping up on the State Hospital ground and the activities that are happening around that. The City has leased ground for two golf courses at the site for over 30 years. The lease is up in 2019.
The Health Department owns this property as and has since the early 1900’s. Rick indicated that when he was in high school they did a tour of the facility. He asked what they are going to do with the population that is there. Bob said there are only 25 patients in the facility and he understands they are going out to the community. Juvenile Corrections also has a facility and they are going to be moving soon.
Rick asked how the Idaho Center is doing financially. Bob said it is doing well. They switched from SMG to Spectra on October 1st. They have turned it around and they are having a lot of events. The just had a Megan Trainor concert outside and had 5,300 people attend.
The deficit on operating this facility is going down in a big way. At the height of its not doing well, they were at a $1.6 million subsidy and now they are down to around $750,000. He just talked to the Director over there and they have a lot of exciting events coming up. Then there is the Rodeo.
This last year it was the 100 year anniversary and you would expect to see some drop off. Ticket sales are the same as they were last year.
Ada County Fair
John asked Rick how many years of the fair he has had on the Commission. Rick said 14. The fair is held the third week in August. The last couple of years it has conflicted with school. Schools have moved up their start time and are taking a longer break at Christmas. This makes it difficult for the 4-H kids as well as for revenue for the fair. Once school starts, mid-week during the mornings there is hardly anyone there.
Their Fair Manager has been watching this open carry thing around the State and is concerned how that is going to play out this year. Because when law enforcement or people see a gun they tend to act differently. This may cause problems.
Rick said he had a video that he was going to share with Bill that is quite interesting. It is about a guy that is wearing Levis and a polo shirt on and is walking into a room. He has an AR-15 underneath his polo shirt. He is slender and tall. He pulls it out and takes out about 6 clips that he has in his pockets, plus a pistol and two clips in his rear pockets. You would never know it.
Trail Systems of the Treasure Valley
Rick introduced Tim Breuer with the Land Trust of the Treasure Valley. Tim has worn a number of hats over the years. Tim said he was raised in a small town in South Dakota. He has been in Boise since 1983.
His career has been a mesh of investment estate planning and conservation and open space. These areas of his career meet in this notion of using tax strategies and creative ideas for private landowners to conserve open space. In 1992 he was part of a group that helped formulate this notion of a trail system throughout the Boise Foothills that operated across jurisdictions. The City of Boise and the BLM came up with a little bit of money and said what would be the best way to put this together. He was hired in 1992 by a partnership of the City of Boise, Ada County, BLM, Forrest Service, and Fish and Game and proceeded to put together the trail system we see today. There were revocable agreements with private landowners and the momentum took off.
He believes all jurisdictions in the Treasure Valley have evolved into seeing trail and open spaces as not a nice amenity but an investment in livability.
He did this for about a dozen years and spent some time in Ada County’s Parks and Waterways department. The Land Trust of the Treasure Valley secured some funding that was right in line with what he was doing so he has been with the Land Trust since 2006. It is a nonprofit that tries to find creative ways of conserving land, getting people involved and caring for property through stewardship. This is the three-legged stool of what he works on now.
Rick asked what the Board of Directors and membership of the Land Trust looks like. Tim said the Board consists of a dozen folks of varying walks of life. Membership ebbs and flows and they have about 700 paying members. They have quite a list of volunteers they utilize on projects. They do a film festival in the spring and a gala in August that helps to raise funds.
Rick said he remembers early public hearings in Eagle where they were trying to get easements on ditch banks and that sort of thing. He especially remembers how poorly they were received. Tim said we have come a long ways and in some respects it is getting easier. Rick added that he feels the development community has bought into this concept and they see it as an asset.
Joe said they have a very nice green belt in Kuna for the size of the city. But there always seems to be one person that holds things up for expanding the greenbelt along Indian Creek. John said they have one spot on the east side of the race track that is their only impediment for having a direct way through. The path ends and you have to go around about ¼ of a mile through streets to meet up with the greenbelt in Garden City.
Tim said trails and open space are no longer amenities. They are part of what makes a community livable and enjoyable. One of the movements these days is framed around the health aspect. Studies show that people that live near pathways or open space tend to live a healthier lifestyle.
He said trails and open space have a bunch of benefits that are kind of linked. Benefits such as flood hazard mitigation, healthy lifestyle, fire hazard reduction, economic wellbeing, quality of life and last but not least fun fishing and floating all tend to work together to help serve as values of the community. Additionally businesses tend to look at these things and students tend to look at these assets to decide whether they will stick around going into adulthood.
One of the things he has discovered after cutting his teeth on the foothills trail system, the river pathway and corridor system with the Land Trust is a cornerstone conservation area. In years gone by there was a plan to have a pathway from Lucky Peak to the Snake River. Most, if not all communities have this idea of open space and pathways in their Comp Plan. We are great at planning, but the follow through and implementation, become a challenge because of funding and other considerations.
There is more opportunity that is coming in front of us as there is development along the river. There is always open space associated with this because of floodway and flood plain considerations. In Eagle, there have been some delicate attempts to balance the development needs with the desire of the pathway community and the ecological value of bald eagle nests and natural environments.
Bob said they struggle with maintenance. You get the pathways and they are great, but here is no easy fix. The more pathways you have the more the cost of maintenance because of tree roots breaking up the pathway.
Tim said, one of the things they have been paying attention to and exploring ideas on is in these developments up against the river is what happens to the pathway once the HOA becomes involved. It is not easy as developers are not up for paying out much. Somehow creating a partnership between the community and the HOA where the pathway property will become the property of the local government and the Land Trust will hold the conservation easement will help avoid these problems. This is a struggle for local governments. They have been looking into finding a way where the development would help try to find some funding on a low key basis.
One thing he is finding as a budding issue is parking for access to the pathway. They are deep into this on one of the properties they own, Harrison Hollow and the adjoining business as this is where people park. They have been looking at shared parking and shared use ideas with this business.
John asked who owned Plantation Island. Tim said the Idaho Foundation for Parks and Lands which is a Statewide Land Trust. John said if this area were to be improved, you already have a parking lot in the Fairgrounds. Tim said the shared parking idea and park and ride concepts are key to open space and pathways.
Tim said on the funding front there is something to track. Statewide, the motorized community has a robust funding mechanism through license plate and sticker programs and feed it through State Parks and Recreation. They get significant dollars to use to maintain trails for motorized use. The latest discussions have been that they need something like this for non-motorized use. There were community workshop discussions around the State. In the one in Boise, there were 70 people that showed up and there were a lot of interesting discussions. The sense he got is folks see this as a way to solve the funding for trail maintenance on public lands. He feels this would be a missed opportunity if the urban piece to the puzzle were not included.
Tim asked if there were things that could be working better and additional challenges faced by the jurisdictions. Nathan said with regard to Parma, years ago there was a group called Beer (Boise Energetic and Enthusiastic Rafters). Every Sunday they would float the river. The lower reaches are particularly dangerous because of diversions, downed trees and undercurrents. The point is there is no one that wants to take responsibility to mitigate the dangers of floating the river on the lower stretch. You can’t promote floating this stretch without tying yourself to some legal liability.
Tim said if there were ways to identify the hazards and to put a sign up identifying these hazards at each of the put-in points.
Tim asked if there were anything on the ordinance front that could be an opportunity. John said we can direct the open space component through our ordinances. Those of us on the river have protections in place for access to the river as well as access to the access along the river corridor. One of the things we must keep in mind is having access for maintenance that would require the use of big equipment.
John said the Legislature restricted the use of condemnation for the purposes of pathways. He encouraged Tim to keep the Associations of Cities and Counties in mind as they look down the road to creating a “park pass” type funding mechanism for pathways and open space. These associations have a lot of legislative contacts that should be of help with the process of creating this type of funding mechanism.
Tim said in closing. Think big.