local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


YMCA, city hammer out deal

$3 million funding plan will likely go to voters

Express Staff Writer

In an abrupt turn of events this week, the city of Ketchum and the Wood Community YMCA reached tentative terms on a proposal for the city to help fund the YMCA’s proposed $16 million recreation facility and community center.

Ketchum resident Larry Young has been critical of the city’s contemplation of funding options for the proposed Wood River Community YMCA. Express photo by David N. Seelig

At the onset of a special meeting Monday, May 17, Ketchum City Council President Randy Hall announced that the city intends to abandon consideration of a controversial plan for the YMCA to take over the city’s recreation department.

"Consolidation is off the table," he said.

Instead, Hall and other council members tentatively agreed the city should seek to honor the terms of a 2003 City Council resolution to provide the YMCA with $3 million, if city voters consent.

Ultimately, the specific terms of how the city could fund the YMCA’s proposed complex were not finalized. The council, however, showed a strong inclination to put before city voters a $3 million funding proposal that would give the YMCA $300,000 for 10 years, in exchange for partial ownership of any facility that is built.

The special meeting Monday was prompted by an April 21 proposal by the YMCA to take over operation of the city’s recreation programs and collect for 10 years the Parks and Recreation Department’s entire $450,000 annual budget.

The YMCA intended to leverage the money to help finance a state-of-the-art, 85,000-square-foot community complex with a swimming pool, climbing wall, fitness center and ice rink.

The facility is planned for the city’s Park and Ride Lot, at the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads.

The city has already agreed to lease a portion of the 5.8-acre Park and Ride Lot to the YMCA for $1 per year.

The YMCA is planning to offer family memberships to Blaine County residents for approximately $80 per month.

Attorney Ed Lawson, right, with YMCA board member Tom Praggastis, this week urged the City Council to follow through on a 2003 resolution to help fund the YMCA’s proposed $16 million community complex. Express photo by David N. Seelig

The April YMCA financing proposal was put forth as an alternative to a funding plan outlined in a 2003 city resolution. That plan called for pursuing a $3 million revenue bond.

In discussions Monday, council members and Mayor Ed Simon indicated they would not seek a $3 million revenue bond, which would require approval by at least two-thirds of city voters.

Instead, the panel suggested, the city would hold an advisory election to determine if a simple majority of Ketchum voters support allocating $300,000 directly from the city budget for 10 consecutive years.

Ed Lawson, attorney for the Ketchum-based YMCA group, said the proposal to take over the city’s recreation programs was issued only because the YMCA believed the city did not have adequate funds in its budget to provide $3 million in financial support.

"We were trying to figure out how to pay for the dinner you invited us to," Lawson said.

Tom Praggastis, a member of the YMCA board of directors, pushed the city to move forward in making a decision. He said the YMCA is preparing to submit a set of project designs to city planners and hope to gain city approval for the development by fall.

The YMCA intends to start building the project in spring 2005, Praggastis said.

Ketchum resident Larry Young questioned the council’s intentions, noting that the city seems to be "bifurcating" its 2003 resolution to hold a revenue-bond election.

Simon said the 2003 resolution is merely a "policy statement" of the previous City Council and can be modified.

Keith Perry, president of the Blaine County Recreation District board of directors, issued a strong statement of support for the YMCA project.

"This is the best deal you’re going to get," he said. "If you don’t go forward, nothing will ever happen."

Perry noted that he believes it is not unfair to ask the city of Ketchum to annually pay $300,000 to support the project before any other Wood River Valley cities have committed funding. The Ketchum funds would likely be derived from local option taxes, which are collected in large part from people residing outside of Ketchum, he said.

Councilman Baird Gourlay continued to foster the concept of the city taking partial ownership of the YMCA swimming pool.

Gourlay said he believes city voters will support a funding plan if they are guaranteed a stake in the YMCA project.

The city has not set a date to continue its discussions on the YMCA issue.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.