Big plans laid
for Lionís Park
Ice rink, whitewater park,
may mesh with nature trail
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Pouring over maps of Haileyís
Lionís Park and tentative designs for a whitewater park, a nature trail
and a covered ice rink, an ad hoc group of recreation, restoration and
conservation advocates met with city staff last week to discuss proposed
improvements to the park.
Reached by Croy Street bridge,
Lionís Park is located on the west bank of the Big Wood River.
Hailey City Councilwoman Carol
Brown hosted the meeting Thursday, March 25, in the newly renovated
public meeting space at City Hall.
Haileyís Lionís Park on the
banks of the Big Wood River may be turned into a more prominent
recreation destination that could include an indoor ice rink, a
whitewater park and a nature trail. Express photo by Matt Furber
Representatives for the Wood River
Land Trust and supporters of the proposed ice rink and whitewater park
projects held the roundtable meeting to discuss how the various projects
could be coordinated. Also at issue is to make the most efficient use of
city staff time during the planning process.
The Hailey Parks and Lands Board
was asked to guide the planning process and provide oversight for all
parties interested in park improvements.
The ice rink planners have raised
$270,000 in pledges and $120,000 in cash bringing them close to the
money needed to begin construction. "At $500,000 we can start breaking
ground," said Ron Fairfax one of the ice rink advocates spearheading the
When completed the estimated
$600,000 to $900,000 steel truss building would house a refrigerated ice
rink, locker rooms and bathrooms.
The whitewater park team hopes to
lay rock in the Big Wood River to create hydraulics that will be
interesting to both kayakers and anglers, said Dave McCarmick, who is
helping organize the project.
"It would take about two months to
lay the foundation and place the rocks," he said. Some of the rocks
would be flat to provide places along the river where people could rest.
The park is to be paid for largely with private funds.
The Wood River Land Trust is
hoping to organize grant money that will go to cleaning up the immediate
surroundings and building a nature trail that would give visitors an
opportunity to view beaver ponds located at the base of Della Mountain.
To help achieve some of the public
recreation enhancements, the Land Trust plans to apply through the State
of Idaho for an EPA grant. The grant would be funded with federal monies
under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, a nonpoint source management
program that would be administered by the state.
Currently, Lionís Park has a
baseball diamond and some playground equipment. The parking area is used
as a storage space for snow in the winter and a temporary storage spot
for chip sealing work that is done on city streets in the summer.
The planners, however, face a
retinue of hurdles before the future vision for the riverfront is
realized, including coordinating the plans of the different user groups
and city needs for snow storage.
Hailey Public Works Manager Ray
Hyde and City Engineer Tom Hellen were present at the meeting to give
their input and estimate how much city labor the assembled groups would
require with their projects.
"(The park) looks ripe for
recreation funding," Hyde said. "Itís all about timing. Weíve never put
so many things together."
Hyde said that if the projects
involve in-kind services to pay for city labor, timing would be
"Itís not undoable," he said.
"There will have to be a lot of meetings with a lot of groups to make
sure everyone gets on the same page."
Other challenges include studying
flood plain impacts, how to provide water and sewer services,
coordinating riparian restoration, and creating an adequate entry to the
park from Croy Street.
Hailey Chamber of Commerce
Executive Director Tom Smith and Chamber President Jim Spinnelli both
voiced support for the improvements citing the benefits to tourism as a
huge potential source of income for Hailey.
Once plans have been chosen, the
city of Hailey will be the applicant to Blaine County for permission to
move forward with the project. Although the park is on city owned
property, the land is in the county.
Negotiations to build a retirement
home in Croy Canyon, to be called the Blaine Manor Extension, are widely
cited as beneficial to the recreation advocates because the city and the
county are already being petitioned to find a way to get water and sewer
services out to that proposed development.
All the projects will require
coordination with the county on zoning requirements. Some city planners
have said the plans could put the city in the driverís seat for guiding
development if annexation applications are received and considered.
"This is a good example of
different parts of the community coming together for a common goal,"
said Dan Gilmore, community relations director for the Wood River Land
Trust. "At one point it was dump."