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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 24 - 30, 2002


Janss Center initiates campaign to raise $8 million to fulfill its goal

Express Staff Writer

The Bill Janss Community Center group is preparing for a final fund-raising push that could help build a $15 million, 68,000-square foot recreation facility in Ketchum.

Janss Center campaign co-chairs, Alex Orb and Kathy Jones, are preparing to kick off an $8 million fundraising effort to help build a state-of-the-art community recreation center at Ketchumís park and ride lot on the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads. Courtesy photo

But the Ketchum City Councilís will to hold a large property for the eventual community center appears to be weakening. Last year, Ketchum approved a resolution giving the Janss Center 18 months to raise enough money to move forward with plans to build a community center on the city-owned park and ride lot, but the resolution is not binding.

"I have not reviewed their pro-forma, but Iíve already publicly said that I have concerns," Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon said. "Iím trying to hold back out of a certain fairness to them, but thatís really hard for me to do."

Other council members expressed similar sentiments April 16 at an affordable housing hearing.

Nonetheless, Community Center Board chair Cynthia Murphy announced last week that Wood River Valley residents Kathy Jones and Alex Orb will lead the centerís $8 million Our Kidsí Campaign to complete fundraising efforts.

"We are very excited to have Kathy and Alex as our campaignís leaders," Murphy said. "Both are long-time residents, have been connected with our efforts since the beginning and, most importantly, both have raised children here."

"We need this facility," Jones said. "As the needs of our community have outgrown what has generously been made available to us throughout the valley."

The Janss Centerís goal is to provide facilities for swimming, ice skating, hockey, basketball, dance, aerobics, martial arts, rock climbing and strength training. Meeting rooms and convention space also will be available.

"This will be a place for the community, and particularly our teens to gather," according to a press release from the group.

In annual fundraising events and through board member donations, the group has raised $750,000 for operational and planning costs, Community Center campaign director Mike Wolter said.

Ketchum City Council members have said they like the concepts behind the Janss Center, but projected losses during the first two years of operation grabbed their attention when a business plan was presented last summer.

The business plan proposes that the Janss Center coordinate loans and private fundraising efforts to build the facility, but turn financial responsibility over to the city after the project is built.

Revenues from facility operations would eventually help cover debts, according to the business plan by Brailsford and Dunlavey business planners. However, projected shortfalls during the first two years of operation would be covered by the city. Those could amount to more than $700,000 over the two-year time frame.

"The majority of these facilities cannot cover both the operating budget and the debt to built them," said Brailsford and Dunlavey Vice President Jeff Turner last summer. "If they did, thereíd be tons of private developers building them everywhere."

Murphy said the Janss Centerís planning was guided by four objectives: creating fitness facilities, making the facilities affordable and accessible to children, making the facilities affordable and accessible to families and operating as a self-sustaining facility.

According to Wolter, the organization will approach the "full community" for gifts in the near future.

"We are currently working on lead gifts and the recruitment of additional volunteer leadership," he said.

And about Ketchumís shrinking patience for a project thatís been more than five years in the works, Wolter said he hopes the group can show reasons not to doubt it.

"We certainly feel pressure, but we feel like weíre ready to move forward now," he said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.