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For the week of January 31 through February 6, 2001

Sun Valley contemplates cultural center

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Mayor Dave Wilson proposed building a cultural center on city property adjacent to the Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church at a town meeting of city residents Monday night.

His argument was straightforward.

Earl Holding is planning a major facelift of Sun Valley Co. properties after the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The facelift will probably mean a building project on the Sun Valley soccer field, which would mean the loss of a venue for major cultural events like the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

Local option tax revenues produced by events like the Sun Valley Wine Auction also would be lost if the venue is not replaced.

Therefore, it is in the best interests of the city of Sun Valley and the different sponsors of cultural events to build a cultural center on the city’s newly acquired five-acre parcel adjacent to the Catholic church, Wilson said.

He told the meeting audience that Holding has said he would like to build a new hotel on company property.

Wilson added that Holding believes many of Sun Valley’s condominiums do not reflect a "first-class resort." Built in the 1970s, the condos were described by Wilson as "run-down."

The two places the mayor said he expects the company to build were the old Moritz Hospital property and the Sun Valley soccer field.

The soccer field is where the symphony, the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival, the wine auction and other cultural and revenue-generating events have been held.

Even if the soccer field were not immediately lost to a building project, Wilson said, Sun Valley’s growing summer convention business would demand the space and displace the cultural events.

The city’s proposed idea of building a cultural center on the five-acre parcel on Sun Valley Road found favor with Marybeth Flower and Carol Scheifele-Holmes of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

Flower told the audience that one-third of its $1.5 million budget is generated by the wine auction. A loss of venue for this event, she said, would be disastrous for the center.

Holmes told the audience the center was suffering "serious capacity problems," having outgrown its current space for offices, galleries and lectures.

She said the center heard from the city late last December about the idea of building a cultural center.

Wilson said the building would have to be funded by the different organizations that would use it, such as the Sun Valley center. He said he and the city council were "committed to not spending taxpayer dollars" on building a cultural center.

The five-acre parcel came to the city in a land swap for the Moritz Hospital property between the city and Sun Valley Co.

Proponents of the cultural center said the building would go up against the hillside, preserving as much open space on the parcel as possible.


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