End battle between North and South
It’s time to face some obvious facts.
While not as grievous a victim of sprawl
as many other resorts, Wood River Valley development has mimicked other American
Though the map shows that there are three
cities within the Wood River Valley, there’s really only one.
The commercial hub of the city is Ketchum,
the entrance to Bald Mountain, where businesses and customers congregate. Sun
Valley is both suburb and hotel. Hailey and Bellevue are suburbs, with all of
their advantages and disadvantages.
The fact that the valley is really one
city drives people crazy. Why? Because every valley community wants to view
itself as separate and distinct from the others. Yet, they’re not.
When the Ketchum economy has a cold, the
rest of the valley has pneumonia. Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue need
one another like a heart needs blood and blood needs a heart. Yet, they often
treat one another with the mutual disdain afforded enemies.
The heart often insists the blood has no
effect on its survival. The blood emphasizes that the heart has absolutely
nothing to do with its vitality.
Getting beyond the bickering that has
characterized the politics of North and South since 1939, the year Sun Valley
Resort was created, will not be easy. A good first step would be for local
leaders in government, schools and community organizations to acknowledge the
fact that we are one community—and begin to act like it.
With this acknowledgement, the valley
could do the things it needs to do without the strife that characterizes local
politics today. What would change?
Ketchum and Sun Valley could face the fact
that businesses and construction would come to a standstill without the men and
women who commute from Hailey and Bellevue every day.
Bellevue and Hailey could face the fact
that their well being is inextricably tied to the north and appreciate it.
Instead of trying to duck the
responsibility for funding even a limited valley-wide bus system, Ketchum and
Sun Valley would allocate a portion of their healthy local option taxes for its
support. Bellevue and Hailey would assist by helping to organize park and ride
systems in their communities, perhaps on city streets.
Instead of engaging in political warfare
over the location of a proposed YMCA, residents would do the simple arithmetic
that shows that the Y will need revenue streams from both locals and visitors to
survive. They will face the fact the Y can’t get both in Hailey.
Taking the attitude that "we are one"
would soften the rhetoric, bring common sense to local issues and make the
valley a nicer place to live.