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Boise River Greenbelt has an impact on local business

No one doubts the Boise River Greenbelt benefits the Treasure Valley business community. The cities of Boise and Eagle promote bike riding on the Greenbelt knowing its positive impact.

Yet Garden City has chosen to restrict use of this valuable system to the detriment of businesses that rely on the bike-riding public.

Garden City has banned bike riding along a 1.5-mile stretch of greenbelt in the Riverside Village area in Garden City. If you ride a bike on this section you will be fined $125. Bike-riding families, recreational riders and bike commuters would support businesses in Eagle, Garden City and Boise if this 1.5-mile path were open and truly a part of the Boise River Greenbelt system.

Voting yes on Garden City’s Initiatives A & B will lift the bike ban.

Garden City wants to convince voters that there is no need for bike riders to use the path since they can use a “bypass” route through Riverside Village. Using this 2.5-mile route forces families and children to confront 44 driveways and 28 intersection streets. Only a short distance along Riverside Drive has designated bike lanes.

Garden City argues that the proposed new bike/pedestrian bridge solves connectivity to cities both east and west and allows Riverside Village homeowners to have their own walking path. The only thing certain is that a $727,000 federal grant has been dedicated for a “proposed” bridge. How do we know that this project will pass the many hurdles before it, such as an array of federal and state environmental requirements and hydraulic studies? Is there any assurance that the funds earmarked for this project will be enough once bids are received? There is no assurance this bridge will become a reality until it happens.

Mayor John Evans and the City Council claim the path must be paved at a cost of $1.14 million because the initiatives cite “public safety.” The city has always been required to make the existing path safe for all users. This path must be accessible and properly maintained as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act; this has nothing to do with paving the path, bike riding or the initiatives. There are no city, state or federal standards or regulations that mandate that any portion of the Greenbelt be paved, including the ADA. There is no wording in the initiative that says to safely accommodate users the city must pave the path.

The city claims it will have to raise property taxes equating to a 40 percent one-year increase “because of the initiatives.” The cost to pave is clearly highly inflated to scare voters. For example, ACHD is willing to pave a 1.6-mile section of the new 3-mile path on the south side of the river for an estimated $80,000. A recent grant request was submitted to the state by the Foundation for Ada Canyon Trails to pave the same path, and estimated the cost to be $215,000. Our citizens’ safety doesn’t have to come at a price tag of $1.1 million for a paved path.

Garden City claims Riverside Village residents deserve the same kind of path as Boise’s Bethine Church Nature Trail. It isn’t the same. The Bethine Church River Trail was private land given to Boise in 1988 with the understanding that it be a walking path. Public records reveal the path in Riverside Village was state public trust lands and intended as a “bike path.”

The Boise River Greenbelt should be a truly open Greenbelt for all users. This was the intention of the visionaries who first contemplated the Boise River Greenbelt system. Garden City elected officials have made a decision that serves the interests of Riverside Village homeowners at the expense of the rest of the public and businesses in the Treasure Valley.

Please vote yes on Initiatives A & B.

Gary Segers is the Founder of the Citizens for an Open Greenbelt

About Gary Segers