The making of a
modern resort town
Ketchum officials eye myriad of
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Seeking to bolster its image among Wood
River Valley residents, tourists and business owners, Ketchum officials are
developing a long-term program to improve the city’s infrastructure, parks and
Under the program, Ketchum residents over
the next six years could see substantial improvements to city streets and
sidewalks, additional open space, a new city hall and a new $1.2 million parking
Ron LeBlanc, city administrator, recently
issued a tentative outline of the Ketchum Capital Improvements Program, a bold
proposal that seeks to implement a series of categorized improvement projects
from this year through 2008.
LeBlanc last week said a complete draft of
the Ketchum CIP will be put forth in early summer. "I’m collecting ideas right
now and plan to have a draft by the end of June," he said.
The outline for the CIP—which LeBlanc
noted is likely to change before a complete draft proposal is completed—includes
a laundry list of improvement projects that could ultimately change the face of
The CIP tentatively calls for installing
temporary asphalt sidewalks along undeveloped properties, placing the city’s
pole-supported utility lines underground, upgrading downtown alleys and making
changes to public parking areas.
On a grander scale, the draft outline
proposes a $1.2 million public parking structure, acquisition of the Warm
Springs Golf Course for open space, a new $11 million city hall and a new $1.2
million fire station.
A line item dedicated to help fund the
Wood River Community YMCA facility—planned for the city’s Park-and-Ride lot
along Warm Springs Road—does not designate a specific figure.
Several improvements to the city’s park
system and streets are also proposed in the CIP outline.
Mayor Ed Simon recently noted that
implementation of a CIP for Ketchum is one of his top priorities for 2003.
The program would have to be approved by
the Ketchum City Council, with the city each year prioritizing projects through
the annual budget-approval process.
LeBlanc said that by adopting a CIP, the
city would not only create for itself a blueprint of future projects, it would
also become eligible for specific grants it currently does not qualify for.
He said the projects included in the plan
would likely be funded through the city’s revenues from local option taxes,
property taxes, as well as grants.
The proposed project to relocate utility
lines underground could be funded in part through a 1 percent franchise tax
charged on all electricity bills, LeBlanc said. He noted that several business
owners and residents have told city officials they would like to see the lines
buried, mainly to improve the aesthetics of the city.
"I know that’s one thing a lot of people
are interested in doing," LeBlanc said.
Implementing a CIP in Ketchum could be
done in conjunction with the creation of one or more local improvement
districts, LeBlanc said. Establishment of designated districts would help the
city ensure that improvements required of private property owners—particularly
sidewalks—are completed at the latest when the properties are sold.
The districts could be installed as four
separate quadrants that would be phased in over a period of time, LeBlanc noted.
LeBlanc said some of the improvement
projects the city has identified as priorities will be implemented this summer.
Gaps in the sidewalk on the west side of
First Avenue from its north end at Hemingway Elementary School to Fourth Street
will be filled in with asphalt, he said. He noted that the city will still
require developers of vacant parcels in the area to install permanent sidewalks
when they build.
"This is more of a public safety issue for
the kids," he said. "Nobody is getting a free sidewalk."
In addition, the city this summer will
install a chip-seal road surface on First Avenue from Fourth Street north to the
school and will install a new asphalt road surface on First Avenue from Fourth
Street to River Street. The asphalt road surface—which costs more than chip-seal
but is smoother and generally more durable—is a "test to see how the community
likes it," LeBlanc said.
The city administrator noted that other
parts of the city could be earmarked for chip-seal projects this year. However,
crews will use a larger rock and fast-setting tar to ensure that the surface
does not melt and break up in the summer heat, as chip-seal jobs in the downtown
area did last summer.