Friday, December 16, 2005

Ketchum advised to highlight its history

Public hearing on city's demolition ordinance slated

Express Staff Writer

The revitalization of downtown Ketchum doesn't have to be defined only by new plans, new projects, or new buildings. Sometimes, a return to vibrancy is a return to the past.

At the Ketchum Historic Preservation Commission meeting Wednesday, Dec. 14, economic development consultant Tom Hudson offered a glimpse into the city's possible future.

"One of the things we've been most concerned about is to find substantial ways to highlight your history," said Hudson, who is under contract with the city to help formulate a downtown master plan. "(People) can learn about your history in fun and positive ways. We feel this is one of the foundations of the master plan."

"For us to move forward, we need to be conscious of our heritage," he added. "We need to be explicit about heritage and connection to place."

In keeping with that theme, Commission Chairman Jim Ruscitto reminded commissioners of the public hearing Monday, Dec. 19, on Ketchum's demolition ordinance.

The city is considering amending the existing demolition law to require public notification and a waiting period when a historic building is going to be razed.

The City Council during discussions in October also proposed requiring property owners of non-historic buildings to sign a security agreement with the city before it issues a demolition permit. That agreement would require owners to clean up debris after demolition.

Preservation commissioners support the historic property-related language in the ordinance because it would allow interested outside parties time to find a way to buy or move the building. The proposal would not infringe on property owners' right to demolish their buildings.

Commissioners also agreed during Monday's meeting to conduct a joint session with the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society, which oversees the Heritage and Ski Museum, to brainstorm ideas for enhancing the city.

"We need to use the town's public environment to express who you are," Hudson said. "Highlight and interpret your history. You want people to say, 'Yah, that's mine. That's what I believe in. That's what I'm here for.' You want (the town) to put the come-hither on ya."

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