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Friday, June 18, 2004


Preservation plan for ‘Louie’s’ gains momentum

Old church could be relocated on Park and Ride lot

Express Staff Writer

"Louie’s," the wayward historic church remembered best for its time as a downtown Ketchum pizza parlor, could be granted a permanent location on public property under a new plan gaining momentum at Ketchum City Hall.

Four members of the Ketchum Historic Preservation Commission—an advisory body formed by the city last February—informally agreed Wednesday, June 16, to advance a plan to put the 123-year-old building on the south end of the Ketchum Park and Ride lot. The city-owned lot is located at the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads.

Floyd McCracken

Commissioners Mike Bouiss, Nan Emerick, Jim Ruscitto and Tory Canfield agreed to support a proposal that would relocate the old church from a city storage lot on Lewis Street to a permanent location on a three-tenths-acre portion of the Park and Ride site.

The commission is planning to conduct a vote in the coming weeks to formally recommend a specific plan of action to the Ketchum City Council. The council holds final authority over how all city land parcels are used.

Floyd McCracken and Dick Meyer, co-founders of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society’s "Save the Church" committee, told commissioners that the group has raised $112,000 to renovate the aging Louie’s building.

The tentative plan being supported by Save the Church and the commission calls for using the church as a community center and museum maintained by the Historical Society.

"There are so many things a community center could provide," McCracken said. McCracken in March presented to the City Council a proposal to relocate Louie’s on the southern end of the Park and Ride lot.

After some council members questioned whether the project would infringe on the plans of the Wood River Community YMCA—which hopes to put a $16 million recreation center on the site—the proposal was sent to the Historical Commission for review.

Although McCracken has maintained that there is adequate space for both projects on the 5.8-acre Park and Ride site, commissioners have asked that he provide a letter from the YMCA indicating that the plans are not in conflict.

Once called "Louie’s Pizza," the 1881 Congregational church was moved from its original location at Leadville Avenue and Sun Valley Road in 1999. The church last year was removed from a temporary location on the Park and Ride lot amid complaints that it was an eyesore.

In the last two years, Save the Church has made proposals to locate Louie’s at the Ketchum Cemetery, the site of the Guy Coles Skate Park in Ketchum and the city of Sun Valley’s five-acre open-space parcel on Sun Valley Road. None were approved.


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