Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Park City leaders visit to swap ideas

Express Staff Writer

Affordable housing, transportation and planning issues aren't problems seen only in the Wood River Valley.

Approximately 60 city leaders and citizens from Park City, Utah rolled into Ketchum on Wednesday to begin a day-and-a-half-long confab with local leaders.

Community representatives sought to share ideas on how to deal with challenges facing resort communities.

The trip, initiated by Park City, included receptions, meetings with break-out sessions and outings, Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon said.

"It was an interesting experience," Simon said. "We have similar problems. There's a (benefit) any time you get together and share ideas."

Simon said that due to cost, Ketchum leaders don't travel on similar information-gathering trips.

"We have not gone in the last four years," he said. "I have been opposed to taxpayers paying for these trips."

He said he would prefer to send some of the city's planning staff rather than elected officials.

Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson said having elected and non-elected people swapping ideas on the road is a creative way to tackle community issues.

"What I got out of it more than anything else was the idea of elected officials getting together with the purpose of getting out and seeing what's going on elsewhere and what's being done about it," he said. "One of the things we need is engagement of citizens in problems of the community. There's a ton of talent here."

He said the Wood River Valley is behind other communities in dealing with growth, and that city officials' embarking on similar trips would be worth the cost.

"We have money in our budget for training," he said. "It's a legitimate use of funds."

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