split over proposed arts center
public that deal is not done
Express Staff Writer
a packed house at a special town meeting, Sun Valley Mayor David Wilson
assured Sun Valley and Ketchum residents last Wednesday that a
controversial proposal to build a $20-25 million arts facility on city
property will undergo multiple rounds of public review before it could
Valley Mayor David Wilson explains aspects of an arts center
proposed for the city’s five-acre parcel adjacent to Our Lady of the
Snows Catholic Church. A working design for the facility was drafted by
architect Harry Teague of Aspen, who has designed similar facilities in
other Western resort towns. Express photo by David Seelig
said that a "needs analysis" to determine whether the facility
is necessary and viable will take at least three months, and before the
end of the year should provide city officials and project proponents
with guidance as to whether the proposal should proceed.
explained that if the study determined the project was indeed viable,
the beneficiaries of the project—including the Sun Valley Arts
Foundation and its allies—would be asked to show that the project was
properly endowed before it was given approval to proceed.
don’t build it if you don’t raise the money," he said.
is the future of a five-acre parcel along Sun Valley Road that the City
of Sun Valley acquired in December 2000 through a land-swap deal with
the Sun Valley Co. The city has entered into an informal agreement with
the foundation stipulating that the foundation can lease the site for a
nominal fee if it can raise the money to build the facility—and prove
that it will be of benefit to the community over the long term.
has allocated $100,000 to be spent on designing and researching the need
for the project, but Wilson guaranteed residents that the center will
not be built with taxpayer dollars.
current design, the proposed center would house an indoor performance
hall, an outdoor amphitheater, dance studios, a city park above an
underground parking garage, plus office space for the Sun Valley Center
for the Arts and the Arts Alliance.
has spent roughly $60,000 on researching and designing the project to
this point, and will pay half of the $40,000 needs analysis cost, which
will be split with the foundation, Wilson said.
suggested that some residents are under a "misconception" that
most of the remaining land along the Sun Valley Road corridor is not
zoned for development. He told the crowd that its owner, the Sun Valley
Co, could develop the remainder of the land adjacent to the city parcel—referred
to as "the horse pasture."
that he believes Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding will eventually
develop two larger parcels east of the horse pasture—the Penny
Mountain and Cottonwood parcels—which are zoned for roughly 70 and 200
residential units respectively.
from the group of roughly 80 area residents at the meeting last week
showed that opinions on the proposal are largely split.
see that beautiful [place] turning into something I’d rather not look
at," said Sun Valley resident Cheryl Stephenson.
Drackett, chairman of the Sun Valley Arts Foundation, said his group
views the project as an arts campus that will bring the Wood River
Valley’s arts organizations into one venue.
thought it was an exciting idea [when the idea was formed], and think it
is an exciting idea now," he said. "Nobody is trying to ram
anything down anybody’s throat," Drackett added. "Defiling
open space is not what we’re about."
apparent differences in opinions prompted some in the crowd to ask the
mayor to conduct a vote on the arts-center concept and its proposed
location at the entrance to the city.
Wilson said that any vote on the matter legally must be
"non-binding," and could only be conducted as an advisory
can’t vote on issues like this," he said.
to demands for an advisory poll or straw poll of residents in the room,
Wilson said, "What we’re doing with all these meetings is a
said this week that his organization wants to be sensitive to the
desires of the local residents. However, he noted that if the group was
forced to purchase property at an alternate location, the overall cost
for a new arts campus might prohibit its creation.
could be a deal breaker," he said.