Friday, December 3, 2004

Smart Growth honors members

Water resource study touted

Express Staff Writer

Citizens for Smart Growth hosted a celebration Wednesday evening in honor of its members at the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage Ski Museum.

The nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable development presented the First Annual Smart Growth Awards, the Keystone and Roundtable, to Janet Barton and Dick Meyer, respectively.

The Roundtable Award is intended to honor an individual who has displayed continued and historic efforts relating to land use issues, promotion of sustainable development and smart growth. The award draws its name and inspiration from the 1970s informal association, chaired by the late Jim Donart, The Wood River Roundtable.

The Roundtable met frequently to discuss issues of growth and development impacting the area. The group became respected and influential, speaking with authority on subjects of concern including water-sewer and transportation infrastructure, said Smart Growth Executive Director Christopher Simms. Participants included Mary Jane Conger, Don and Doris Bennet, Marilyn and Lloyd Curtis, Ed and Mike Moulten, Jim Desnoyers, as well as Meyer.

Meyer was a pioneer in calling for preservation of open space through a transfer of development rights program as well as other cutting edge land use planning tools.

The Keystone Award was established to recognize extraordinary work in the field of design, development and building.

"Barton and her partners at NEST, including Kingsley and Cynthia Murphy, aren't just talking about sustainable development, their project truly embody smart growth philosophy," Simms said. "Smart growth calls for building compact, livable neighborhoods, not just houses. Smart growth principles draw on traditional land-use patterns, where neighborhoods are platted on small lots within walking distance of town centers and community amenities."

Smart growth philosophy also promotes social interaction within a community, and conservation of open space and environmental resources while creating local identity, pride and community ownership, Simms added.

"NEST's projects are great examples of in-fill development called for by all of Blaine County's municipal comprehensive plans," he said "The current project on the north end of Bellevue is only one block from Main Street, and several blocks from the school and library. NEST is following a growing movement in this country to return to the traditional neighborhood design."

The party at the museum also included a presentation by three water specialists, who have been promoting the idea of a regional water study in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The project as described by hydrologists Lee Brown, Bruce Lium and Wendy Pabich would integrate and amalgamate studies of water quality and water quantity that are complete and fill in remaining gaps. Brown explained that the specialists are volunteering their time to push for the project because on a gut level nobody knows the local carrying capacity of water resources.

Former Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig explained that a comprehensive look would require local support and it would provide factual scientific data developers and government leaders could use as a planning tool.

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