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For the week of June 6 - June 12, 2001


Janss Center proposal makes progress

City to consider public-private partnership

Express Staff Writer

The Bill Janss Community Center, which could be built on Ketchum’s Park & Ride lot, may look something like the rendering above. Consultants and planners met with the Ketchum City Council Monday to discuss options to pay for the facility. Artist’s rendering courtesy of Sink Combs Dethlefs Architects.

Plans to build a huge community recreation center on Ketchum’s Park & Ride lot at the corners of Warm Springs and Saddle roads could finally come to fruition.

In two meetings with the Ketchum City Council on Monday, planners for the Bill Janss Community Center provided elaborate presentations of architectural and financial plans for the property. The meetings culminated six years of efforts by the community center’s board of directors.

"This is even better than I thought it was," Councilman David Hutchinson said following the first presentation. The entire council was similarly enthusiastic.

Ketchum taxpayers purchased the lot in February of 1990 via a successfully passed bond issue. The property is earmarked for recreation, parking or cultural facilities.

Conceptual architectural designs for the estimated $14 million project indicate there would be a regulation ice rink, fitness center, aerobics area and gym, climbing wall and an array of outdoor swimming opportunities.

A leisure pool, including lap-swimming lanes, would be complemented with several hot pools, which could be heated naturally using the Guyer Hot Spring in Warm Springs Canyon.

The pools proposal closely models a proposal that would have been funded by the failed Blaine County Recreation District bond initiative in the fall of 1999.

"What we have to show today is the vision," Denver-based architect Andy Barnard, of the firm of Sink Combs Dethlefs, said.

A final proposal would be considerably refined, he said.

The primary purpose of the planners’ visit, however, was to figure out a way to pay for the facilities.

"A private-public partnership is today’s goal," Paul Brailsford, chief executive officer of Washington D.C.-based Brailsford and Dunlavey business planners said. "Really, at this point, we’re prepared to move forward" with fund raising efforts.

A rough sketch of the proposed business plan proposes:

  • The Janss Center privately raises $8 million for construction costs.

  • Ketchum leases the Park & Ride lot to the Janss Center.

  • The Janss Center borrows $7 million in construction costs from, and pledges the lease to, a lender.

  • The Janss Center coordinates construction of the building.

  • The Janss Center leases the building to the city. The city operates the facility.

  • The city pledges all revenues from the facility to cover the tax-exempt construction debt.

  • The city considers taking ownership of the facility when the debt is paid.

Brailsford and Dunlavey vice president Jeff Turner said the facility should be able to pay for itself.

"The facility is greater than the sum of its parts," he said.

Revenues would come from memberships, day passes, ice rink revenues and facility rentals. The annual operating budget would be $1.7 million, he said, adding that he thinks the facility could make $30,000 a year after three years of operation.

"We’re very comfortable that (the revenue projection) is an achievable number," Brailsford said.

Councilman Maurice Charlat called the proposal "very interesting and very exciting," but all council members had unanswered questions.

At the conclusion of the second presentation, the council established a meeting schedule to hammer out financial details of the proposal. They will begin meeting on June 20 at noon and on successive Wednesdays. Brailsord and Dunlavey and Sink Combs Dethlefs will join via conference calls.

"I’m ready to go on this thing one way or another," Mayor Guy Coles said.


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