Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ketchum council eyes downtown master plan

Document would create long-term vision for city core


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

The city of Ketchum has parking plans, transportation plans and community housing plans. But are they working in conjunction with each other?

"There isn't an integration of these pieces ... or a semblance of where it fits into the bigger picture," said Ketchum Planning Director Harold Moniz.

Moniz and the Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commission Monday discussed the notion of a downtown master plan. Moniz said he wants to issue a request for proposal next month for such a project and told commissioners that the City Council supports the concept.

"We have issues and problems in the business environment," Moniz said. "We have an ordinance that allows single-family residential dwellings in the core. Is that what we want our core to be? This community needs to make some decisions."

Phase one of the plan would be funded by this year's budget, Moniz said, while the next two phases would be paid for out of the coming fiscal year's.

"I don't think we have a cohesive vision for downtown," Moniz said. "I'm not sure we're achieving our goal. You can put as many sidewalks in, but if there's no one walking on them ... We need to try to understand the fabric of our downtown and try to make some good decisions (based) on that."

The city updated its comprehensive plan five years ago. City planner Beth Callister urged commissioners to not disregard that effort, but rather to use it to help guide further planning.

Commissioners and city staff discussed looking at densities, building heights, underground parking, street promenades, historical preservation and community housing.

"Community housing is a huge issue," Moniz said. "We either stick our head in the sand or we look at it."

Commission Chairman Harold Johnson said getting locals back into Ketchum, to live and to shop, should be a priority.

"That's our number one problem in town," he said.

Commissioner Jack Rutherford said Ketchum's downtown is not built out, leaving room for coordinated development.

"It's a golden opportunity to create the vision for the next 10 years," he said.




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