TWIN FALLS • Big Ed Beckley has permission to land where Evel Knievel never touched down, but whether Beckley will snag permission to launch from Twin Falls — where the hype all began — is uncertain.
Although Beckley paid nearly $1 million to land on the north side of the Snake River Canyon, Twin Falls officials have approved a permitting process for the famous launch site without requiring applicants to secure a landing site.
That means anyone can apply to jump from the mound of dirt where Knievel did nearly 40 years ago.
During Monday’s council meeting, members said they don’t want the permit to go to the highest bidder. That’s the opposite of the Idaho Department of Lands approach, which awarded the lease to Beckley after he outbid four other applicants.
The city process instead will begin with a request for qualifications (RFQ) from any applicant to be evaluated by city staff. The goal is to make sure the event is safe while also lining up with the city’s mission statement.
The document requires detailed descriptions of the event, what method would be used to jump from the canyon and a list of similar events the applicant has conducted over the past five years.
“It’s fairly vague, it’s vague by design,” said City Manager Travis Rothweiler. “We’re trying to elicit a range of responses.”
Yet the city is not completely ignoring the Department of Lands. The state department’s lease requires Beckley to have the necessary permits or permission from the city by Jan. 1. The city’s deadline for RFQs ends Oct. 18.
“This is a quick turnaround,” Rothweiler said. “There are timelines that have been imposed upon this process as well.”
It’s not a perfect system, though. When Councilwoman Rebecca Mills Sojka asked what would happen if the city awarded the permit to anyone other than Beckley, city staffers didn’t have a clear answer.
“It just puzzles me,” Sojka said.
“It’s a puzzle to all of us,” said City Attorney Fritz Wonderlich. “There may not be an event. That is an option.”
Despite the unanswered questions, the council passed the permit application process 5-1. Sojka voted against the resolution, and Mayor Greg Lanting was absent.