Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Keeping Ketchum 'open'

Nothing announces a community's frigid unneighborliness and the personal fear of its residents than gates that seal some people in and seal others out.

The Ketchum City Council spotted the unwelcome nature of this architectural appurtenance for what it is, and moved quickly to ban gates and "gated communities" as a matter of zoning law.

Councilman BaIrd Gourlay provided the aptest comment as the council hurriedly enacted the law on three emergency readings at one sitting this month.

He called a gated community an "oxymoron"—gates do not make a community.

Across America, whole neighborhoods have been sealed off behind walls and gates, effectively isolating people—figuratively as well as literally—from their larger communities.

One consequence of gated neighborhoods is creating a sense of elitism and disconnect with life beyond gates and walls—a feeling that what happens "out there" to "other" people is none of the gated community's concern.

The Wood River Valley has a special reputation for neighborliness. Prohibiting the inhibiting nature of gates and walls in Ketchum is a step toward maintaining the area's openness.

To maintain the entire valley's character, Blaine County should seize on Ketchum's wisdom and enact a similar ordinance for its zoning and building codes.

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