Friday, July 22, 2005

Misplaced perceptions, poor priorities

Communities that strive for excellence in their quality of life ultimately get there not by practicing the cop-out philosophy of "let someone else do it."

Quite the opposite. The rule of thumb is to pull together, to chip in where and when needed, to give until it hurts, to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

So, what does it say about us in the Wood River Valley when compelling public issues are examined solely in narrow provincial dimensions?

Recent examples:

· When the topic of Wood River Rideshare's Peak Bus service was discussed, Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant suggested the program should be regarded as a creature that benefits Ketchum by relieving it of on-street parking problems—an "amenity as opposed to a necessity."

Opening up more parking spaces does benefit Ketchum. But Mayor McBryant forgets far more beneficial impacts. Working families that may avoid the expense of owning or operating a vehicle for daily commutes in the valley, or riders concerned about sparing the environment more auto emissions, should be a valley-wide concern of public officials.

They should not promote a self-defeating north-south mentality that divides the valley into competing interests.

· During a special Ketchum City Council public hearing on plans for redevelopment of Warm Springs Ranch into something other than a golf course, protestors complained about the need for affordable golf. Fine. but the inclusion of 30 affordable housing units in the plan is also vital to a community that needs workers for support services but who cannot afford increasingly costlier accommodations. How refreshing it would have been if affordable housing had received the same intensity of feeling as affordable golf.

· And finally, it's worth emphasizing the need for the city of Sun Valley to abandon its reputation as a cloistered enclave of the privileged who care little about the rest of the community. With no public recreation facilities of its own, the city now has the opportunity to lend a hand with the YMCA's programs by making a major donation over the next few years to seed activities that benefit all.

The Wood River Valley is no longer a collection of disconnected and isolated settlements. We are all neighbors, connected by, and responsible for, overlapping problems whose solutions lie in cooperation, not competition.

There still is a lot of wisdom even in a maxim that was the glue that held together separate colonies: "United we stand, divided we fall."

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