Friday, August 12, 2005

Preserving Sun Valley charm

Express Staff Writer

It's no mistake that to the world beyond the Wood River Valley, our area is known as Sun Valley, rarely by names of other cities. The reason is understandable. Sun Valley is a state of mind, a reputation, an image, an experience.

Crucial decisions are near as the Sun Valley City Council considers whether to adopt a 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update in a hearing 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

Arguably, one of the most critical decisions will be on the future of the so-called "gateway" area along Sun Valley Road inside the city's limits.

The huge open meadow area with grazing horses and occasional eye-catching arts displays; Penny Hill, where toddlers get their first experience on snow sleds; and the large open area between the Red Barn and the Horseman's Center have reinforced Sun Valley's charm.

How that plays into the area's economic fortunes is incalculable. Priceless, as one credit card company would say.

The plan shows 125 residential units that could be developed there. Yet, it also calls for preserving the area as a gateway, perhaps with a density transfer to other lands also owned by Sun Valley Co.

That option should be uppermost in the minds at City Hall—keeping the best of the city's character in perpetuity—the look that has helped make the resort community what it is in the minds of millions around the world.

The City Council should also revisit the plan's call for any commercial development in the county near the hospital. The call—just one line—breaks faith with the long-term tradeoff that concentrated commercial development in the cities and left Highway 75 free of commercial strip development.

Otherwise, the plan is a solid, well-constructed document that should serve the city and the valley well.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.