TWIN FALLS, Idaho • The Twin Falls City Council denied “Big Ed” Beckley the right to lease Evel Knievel’s jump site at its Monday meeting.
A motion to approve the lease failed on a 5-2 vote. Council members Greg Lanting and Rebecca Mills Sojka voted in favor.
“I don’t know what to say,” said an emotional Beckley. “I’m numb.”
The Texas daredevil spent nearly $1 million in September for the right to lease state land on the north side of the canyon as a landing site.
But the city owns the site where Evel Knievel made his famous, failed canyon leap in September 1974.
Many council members said they were concerned that Beckley’s safety plan was incomplete. After hearing numerous community concerns, council members also questioned whether to have a jump at all.
Mayor Don Hall said the jump idea strayed too much from the city’s strategic plan and would be too much of a burden on city staff.
“This is overload,” he said.
Hall said the council will take up whether to have a jump at its next meeting.
Councilman Jim Munn agreed that the jump “had nothing to do with our strategic plan.”
Munn said he was concerned that the jump was “an unwinnable situation” for local law enforcement. Putting the burden on safety officials to protect homeowners and the city from thousands of event-goers would be “an injustice,” he said.
“The police cannot guarantee the safety of those people in those neighborhoods out there,” he said.
Councilman Shawn Barigar said the lease and safety plan had “giant holes,” and he was ready to move to the next applicant, local BASE jumper Miles Daisher and REO Development. Barigar said he felt that group could address issues important to the city in a timely fashion.
He said he was tired of hearing that Beckley would have a proper safety plan and not getting one. He said he was tired of the plan responsibility falling to city staff when Beckley’s team had months to work on it.
“It is like we keep having to light a fire under people to get deliverable products from them,” he said.
Mills Sojka said it was all or nothing for her. She said it would be wrong to move to another jumper if the council would not give Beckley the time and opportunity to fulfill the lease obligations.
“If the issue is to not have a jump, I can support that,”Mills Sojka said. “I think there are valid arguments about doing a jump at all, but I would hate for it to be about personalities. Some of the comments made tonight were flat out character assassinations, and I don’t think that has anything to do with this legal document that will protect the citizens of our city.”
Lanting said he chose Beckley because he felt his team was best suited to handle the magnitude of the jump. He said it would be different if he were choosing with his heart.
“On the back of my mind, we have another jump that we have no control over whatsoever,” he said. “I would at least like to control this one if there is going to be one.”
Vice Mayor Suzanne Hawkins said she didn’t think any of the applicants could meet proper requirements for the jump.
“Even though we said that if Beckley Media did not meet our requirements, we would move on to No. 2, I would be in favor of not holding a jump this year at all,” she said. “I don’t think it is in our resources, and I don’t think it is in our strategic plan.”