Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Discussion of River Street development opened

Express Staff Writer

Streets and sidewalks were the focus Monday of a discussion by the Hailey City Council and city staff. The planning staff introduced thoughts about how to go forward with infrastructure plans for River Street in Hailey, recommending new sidewalk standards.

Hailey planning director Kathy Grotto introduced the topic as her office gears up for the new year and a proposed development at the corner of River and Silver streets, which she said will come before the planning and zoning commission in January.

"In terms of trying to encourage mixed use (River Street) is a potential area for pedestrians ... (it has the potential) for developing into something really nice," Grotto said.

Grotto and City Engineer Tom Hellen shared their thoughts on how to promote a pedestrian friendly environment with sidewalk bulbs that reach out into the street to help make pedestrians visible to on-coming traffic. The question was asked if parking on River Street should be diagonal or parallel.

Hellen said the technical problems of how to protect pedestrian bulbs from snow plow damage and drainage could be ironed out.

City Councilman Rick Davis offered some history, explaining that Main Street once had diagonal parking, but based on his interviews with business owners, most believed that parallel parking was preferable and pedestrian bulbs did not have to be as big.

Hellen said the city street department was not crazy about large pedestrian bulbs because of the snow removal challenge it posed. City superintendent Ray Hyde also stressed that street crews and equipment are already stretched in the ability to provide satisfactory snow removal.

"We're stretched to the max right now," Hyde said, stressing that it is important for the city to address how it is going to provide expanded sidewalk services if it moves forward with developing more.

The council resolved to develop new sidewalk and street standards that would revise snow removal language to help the city maintain infrastructure in winter.

Opening Monday's meeting Mayor Susan McBryant commended Hailey staff, the council and the planning and zoning commission for their hard work during a particularly busy year for the city.

The city council met 34 times and the planning and zoning commission met 29 times during the year, she said.

"The time and energy staff put in this year is to be commended," McBryant said. "It is a testament not only to commitment, but to the issues facing our city."

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