Taking a look at
what’s best for the community
opinion by Latham Williams
debate about the future of a cultural center in our community is now in
full swing. Editorials are being written, public hearings are being
convened, dinner conversations are being interrupted. With all this
debate, perhaps a bit of history and perspective is in order.
ago, the leaders of the City of Sun Valley took an annual look at the
assets of our community. We developed a replacement fund for physical
assets such as fire trucks, police cars and snow plows. We completed and
built a storage building to protect the long-term value of some of those
assets. We invested in the continuing education and health of our
same time, we took stock of our many non-physical assets. We looked at
open space, and hillsides and view corridors, and we took action to
protect those assets. We looked at the number of volunteers who work to
make our city better in ways small and large. And we looked at the
important roles that art and culture play as assets in our community.
at what makes Sun Valley unique, at what makes it different. We looked
at the Summer Symphony, the Caritas Chorale, the Writer’s Conference,
the Arts and Crafts Festival. We looked at the exhibits that occur
throughout the year, and at the many theatre, music and dance
all of these as assets—and as assets worth protecting. We looked at
the future of growth in our community, and when we looked at the
physical and financial pressures that growth has and will continue to
put on the continued viability of these assets, we felt a responsibility
to be a part of protecting them.
future of art and culture is undeniably linked to the quality of our
future as a community. They are part of who we are. They are part of
what makes the experience of Sun Valley different and unique. They are
as much a part of the Sun Valley experience as a view of Baldy, a walk
on the bike path, or a sleigh ride out Trail Creek.
City’s 5-acre parcel on Sun Valley Road the perfect place for an arts
and cultural center? No. Could it work? Maybe, if designed with
sensitivity to the site and the established view corridor. Are the
costs of losing open space too high to justify the benefits? That’s a
major question in the debate and one we must settle before moving
of Sun Valley has taken the initiative to put the concept of an art and
cultural center on the table. We know that some will support it, others
will oppose it. Meetings are open, opinions are encouraged. There’s
going to be a fight, but it’s a fight worth having. And when the dust
settles, the process will give us the facts and opinions to make a
decision in the best interest of our community.
Williams is President of the Sun Valley City Council.