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For the week of June 26 - July 2, 2002


Rec District presents its 10-year plan

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Recreation District is seeking public comment on its recently unveiled 10-year Recreation Facility Plan, which includes expansion of the aquatic center in Hailey and possible construction of a public pool in Ketchum.

"The only way to get this is through community support," said Executive Director Mary Austin Crofts. "Weíve been really successful in doing this stuff in the past, so I feel good that we can continue to provide these facilities for people."

During the next two years, the district plans to:

∑  Take over maintenance of the gym at the current Wood River High School after the new school opens in September 2003, as well as create a teen center there. The gym will be used primarily for after-school activities for elementary-school children. Maintenance costs are expected to run $30,000 per year. Details of the teen center will be finalized with the help of the Blaine County Teen Advisory Council.

∑  Work with Wood River Backcountry Trails, a local volunteer group, to facilitate construction of a south-county trail system.

∑  Expand the Blaine County Aquatic Center to include a pool suitable for toddlers and a childrenís play area. The project is estimated to cost $500,000. About $200,000 would come from Rec District funds and the remainder from an override levy and possible federal grant.

During the next three to 10 years, the district plans to:

∑  Build a Hailey Community Center at the site of the aquatic center. The outdoor pool would be covered and an expanded teen center built. Cost would be $4.6 million, possibly funded by an override levy, grants, private donations and the city of Hailey.

∑  Build a Ketchum Community Center if the proposed Janss Center fails. The center would include an indoor pool, teen center and upgraded skate park. Cost is yet to be determined. "Itís something people have wanted and I think children need in order to learn how to swim," Crofts said.

Only three members of the public spoke up at a public presentation of the plans last Wednesday at the Wood River Inn in Hailey.

Gannett Road resident John Adams criticized the district for not including motorized trails in its plan.

"My recreation is motorized and all I see is Ďnon-motorized,í" Adams said. "Iím real upset that they come in with their bikes and close us off. As long as Iím alive Iíll fight it."

District board member Keith Perry said representatives from Wood River Backcountry Trails had made assurances that a trail system would be multi-use.

But Adams said many areas north of Ketchum have been closed to motorized use. He said people had been snowmobiling in those areas for years before backcountry skiers found them.

"I would love to see a sign with a cross-country skier on it with a line through it," he said.

A question was also raised about recreational programs for senior citizens. Crofts replied that improvements to the Blaine County Aquatic Center include a warmer pool suitable for aquarobics classes, and the district intends to continue guided walks near the Blaine County Senior Center.

Ketchum resident Karen Reinheimer raised concerns about increased summer recreational development on Dollar Mountain, which she said is an important wildlife corridor. She suggested that an environmental study be done before more trails are built there.

In an interview, Crofts said the 10-year plan was based primarily on a recreation needs survey done last fall. She said about 10 percent of the approximately 10,000 surveys mailed to county residents were returned. She acknowledged that the district may not know what the other 90 percent think until it proposes funding sources.

Under Idaho law, which restricts regular budget increases to 3 percent per year, the district can propose a property tax override to increase the current $12 per $100,000 valuation to a maximum of $60 for a two-year period. The measure must be approved by a simple majority. Crofts said she doubts the district would request the maximum.

The district receives about one-third of its $1.9 million budget from property taxes and about two-thirds from donations, grants and user fees.

A second public presentation of the 10-year plan was scheduled for Tuesday night in Ketchum. A third will be held July 18 at 7 p.m. in the Carey City Hall.


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.