Summit held on recreation centers issue
Groups work toward compromise on needs
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Following a large gathering of the Wood
River Valley’s parks and recreation proponents last Thursday, Blaine County
Recreation District officials said a positive new direction had been forged for
planning valley-wide recreation facilities.
"I don’t think we could have asked for any
results better than what we got, which was everybody being able to voice their
concerns and questions," said Blaine County Recreation District Executive
Director Mary Austin Crofts.
Following the four-hour meeting at the
Blaine County Senior Center in Hailey, stakeholders—including the Wood River
Community YMCA, Hailey Ice Park, 5B Sports Center, the Church of the Big Wood, a
new Hailey-based development called Copper Ranch and the county Recreation
District—agreed to meet again to work toward facilities that compliment, rather
than compete, with each other.
"This is just the first meeting," Austin
Crofts said. "As we work through the process, as we look for the needs and where
the holes are, there can be lots of working together. I think there’s still lots
to talk about."
A follow-up meeting is tentatively
scheduled for April 17 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Kentwood Lodge in
In part, the next meeting will be used to
ask the question: "Is it realistic to have each group go out and do their own
thing?" said Dave Keir, Recreation District marketing specialist.
For several months, the recreation
facilities discussion has focused on two proposed facilities, one in Ketchum and
one in Hailey, but the Recreation District meeting shifted additional players
into the limelight.
Advocates for the Hailey Ice Park said
they would like to build a refrigerated ice skating and hockey rink in Hailey in
time for next winter. The $590,000 needed to pull it off could result from a
spring fundraising campaign.
Representatives for The Club at Copper
Ranch, a Hailey-based private recreation facility, said they wish to supply
recreation to the community at affordable rates. Initiation fees for the
swimming, tennis and workout facilities would cost between $100 and $350.
Monthly dues would cost $40 to $120.
"We’re looking forward to working with
other groups in the community," said Copper Ranch representative Jeff Smith.
Representatives for the 5B Sports Center
said the Wood River Valley could support north- and south-based facilities.
"We feel very clearly that Hailey is the
nexus of the health and the growth of the Wood River Valley," said 5B
representative Sam Kory. "This is not a zero-sum game. Everyone in this room can
be successful. No one has to take anything away from anything else."
Reamy Goodwin, chairman of the 5B group,
said he envisions a facility including ice, rodeo, activity, daycare, gym and
wellness facilities. The facility would cost $8 million, and fees would be $1
Though the 5B group has eyed the Hailey
rodeo grounds as a potential site, the city of Hailey has not given the group
the necessary green light.
"We’re concerned about all the interest in
our land," said Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant.
Wood River YMCA (formerly Janss Center)
representatives said they had divided their proposal for Ketchum’s park and ride
lot into two phases, the second consisting of a $5 million to $6 million indoor
The first phase would cost $7 million to
$8 million and would include a gymnasium, pool and workout facilities. To a
certain extent, the group is redesigning its architectural and financial plans
to reflect its recent merger with the YMCA and a recent agreement with the city
"We’re committed to the project we’ve got
on the books right now," said Wood River YMCA board member Tom Praggastis. "We
do intend to move forward on that (first) phase of the project immediately.
"We’ve come to the table fully prepared to
cooperate and collaborate."
Finally, the Recreation District has some
plans of its own to make use of the old Wood River High School in Hailey.
Its "Community Campus" project is 70
percent to 80 percent funded and could open in the fall of this year. The
facility will include a gym, gymnastics, lockers and classrooms, Austin Crofts
According to a 2001 Recreation Needs
Survey compiled by the Recreation District, Hailey was the clear preference for
new recreation facilities for almost all types of recreation, except for