Officials meet to decide location
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
Ketchums movers and shakers this week continued to grumble over the
fate of the citys 100-year-old Congregational Churchformerly Louies
Restaurantin anticipation of last nights scheduled city council meeting.
City officials called for the discussion about possible locations for the
temporarily stored building more than a month before preservationists anticipated.
Mayor Guy Coles, in a telephone interview yesterday, said thats
because the building is an eyesore and needs to be moved out of its current location at
the Park & Ride lot. Coles said there has been "a lot of conflict over the junky
"We can only give them so much time" to find a permanent
location for it, he said. "Its very discouraging to the neighbors [to have it
Floyd McCracken, past president of the Ketchum/Sun Valley Ski and Heritage
Museum, said in a telephone interview Friday that city officials "didnt really
give us time to get something in the paper," so that people from the public would
know about the meeting and show up to comment.
The church is one of Ketchums few remaining relics from the 1880s.
Preservationists paid $12,000, according to McCracken, to have it moved and temporarily
stored last November just days before its slated destruction.
The churchs original location at the corner of Leadville Avenue and
Sun Valley Road is now the planned site for a multi-story commercial/retail building named
Since its 11th-hour rescue last winter, the fate of the old church has
been only slightly improved.
Those working to save itprincipally members of the Ketchum/Sun
Valley Ski and Heritage Museumhave had major difficulty deciding on a permanent
location for it.
Some, like McCracken, say it should go at the south end of East Avenue.
But Coles says that location will not work because "it would eliminate parking and
put an unsuitable building in the middle of town."
Another location McCracken suggests is the Forest Service park in
southwest Ketchum. But Coles said that location wont work because "it would
take away from the authenticity of the park."
McCracken, refuting both of Coles complaints, said, "Weve
answered both questions. Its just that the mayors not in favor of saving
Coles said a better location for the church is on the Rheinheimer Ranch,
which is easily recognized by its white and green barn south of Ketchum.
Coles said, however, approval for that location would be difficult to
obtain because getting a go-ahead from the State Parks Association, which owns the ranch,
would be complicated.
When asked why its important to save the building, Coles said,
"Damned if I know. Its a good question."
"The mayor has been against saving Louies," McCracken
said. "I dont know if hes against saving all historical buildings. He
certainly acts like it. People in this area want their history preserved. They dont
want all new glitzy buildings like Vail."
McCracken said preservationists have about $18,000 collected to move and
restore the old church, and a pledge from the Building and Contractors Association
to donate labor and materials. Nevertheless, he said, another $40,000 to $50,000 needs to
McCracken said he hopes the building will become a community meeting
center, where "little girls dancing in tutus," slide projector shows and
political talks can take place.