Rec Board stands up for ‘moment of
Quigley development plan advances to
By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer
Summer duffers eager to tee-off in Quigley
Canyon may have cause to raise their hopes a notch. Nordic skiers already are
touting the winter attractions of the canyon east of Hailey.
The Blaine County Recreation District
board of directors voted last week to enter into an agreement with owners of
Quigley Canyon Ranch to apply jointly to the City of Hailey for annexation.
Excitement about a golf course that would
double as a modern Nordic skiing trail system tipped the scale in favor of the
project, said Board President Keith Perry. It’s been a long road to this point,
Perry added, noting that he’s been working with the recreation district since
the inception of the idea for a Quigley Canyon golf course seven years ago.
The board framed the meeting Thursday,
April 29, at Wood River High School as "a moment of truth" on whether or not to
put any more energy into a plan for an 18-hole public golf course on donated
land. If the course is built, the recreation district will manage it.
It was time either to accept the terms of
the property owners or walk away, said board member Tim Hamilton.
The agreement with Quigley Canyon Ranch
owners Fred Judd, his son Clay Judd, and Stoney Burke requires a joint
annexation application to be filed with the city of Hailey for annexation within
60 days or the agreement becomes null and void.
The ranch property runs six miles up the
canyon. The proposal is for development of about 860 acres at the head of the
canyon. Of the developable acreage (much of the land is on the hillside), 212
acres would be donated to the recreation district for the golf course that would
double as a Nordic system in winter.
Sufficient water rights to maintain the
golf course would also be donated. The ranch owners would reserve the remaining
land for housing development, said John Gaeddert, who represented the owners at
If the parcel is approved for annexation,
housing development plans would be considered under the typical Hailey Planning
and Zoning and City Council review process. An annexation agreement would
determine zoning specifications.
The agreement between the ranch owners and
the recreation district says that 2 percent of first time home sales will go to
the recreation district’s bottom line.
Several members of the public said they
though the recreation district should have negotiated for more from the ranch
Hamilton said the deal was the best the
recreation district could expect to get considering the years of negotiation
that preceded the vote Thursday.
"I think people underestimate how much the
percentage of home sales will bring," Perry said.
Some members of the public expressed
concern that the ranch owners are using the reputation of the recreation
district as a vehicle for annexation into the city, thereby maximizing the
return on their investment.
Perry questioned whether any other group
could negotiate a better public benefit on privately held land. He also tried to
allay concerns that tee time preferences for homeowners and major donors for the
project would restrict public access.
Homeowners and donors may be allowed to
make tee time reservations 10 days in advance, whereas the public would be
granted reservations seven days before playing, Perry said.
Although a minority opinion at the
meeting, others wondered if the land couldn’t simply be reserved as open space.
A conservation land use model was
considered in the mid-1990s, Gaeddert said.
"When we were first approached by the
committee for the recreation district, a number of people came up with (ideas)
for preserving open space," Gaeddert said.
The owners asked the community to show
their interest in open space by raising the money and preserve it in a trust, he
said. "No one showed up with the money."
Burke has put together a number of land
trust deals to protect historic ranches and open space. He was instrumental in
establishing the Silver Creek Preserve near Picabo.
"If anyone were to go there, it would be
these guys," Gaeddert said. "Now it’s just worth too much."
Gaeddert estimated that in the mid-1990s
the property was worth about $20 million.
For the golf course project the recreation
district needs to raise $7 million for construction projects, including the
greens, a clubhouse to double as a Nordic center, maintenance facilities,
employee housing, a bike path and hiking trails. That fundraising campaign is
contingent on annexation approval.
Part of the agreement includes the
recreation district completing a fiscal impact study.
An initial fundraising effort is also
required to cover planning costs, such as feasibility, fiscal impact and traffic
studies. Money for a project manager also needs to be raised, Perry said.
"I will meet with owners tomorrow to get
the annexation application moving," Gaeddert said Tuesday.