Wednesday, February 8, 2006

City moves forward with urban renewal agency

Express Staff Writer

Despite the charm and beauty of Ketchum, there are enough troubling aspects to the town that parts of it could be eligible for an urban renewal district.

The Ketchum City Council on Monday, Feb. 6. approved a resolution in support of the formation of an urban renewal agency, which would manage an urban renewal district.

The action is an outgrowth of studies by economic development consultant Tom Hudson, who is under contract with the city to help formulate a downtown master plan to revitalize the core.

"This is truly a historic moment," said Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall. "It's really pulled our community together. There's a buzz around town."

Hall said approximately 30 people have approached him expressing interest in being a part of the agency, serving on the board of another non-profit group such as a community development corporation, or assisting in another capacity.

Councilman Baird Gourlay said nearly 60 people have notified him of their interest.

"It speaks to the enthusiasm and excitement of the community," Hall said. "They see there is an implementation stage of this plan."

The framework for the master plan identifies underperforming areas within Ketchum, a requirement for the formation of the non-profit entity.

Problematic issues cited in the framework document are lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable downtown retail space, unsafe or non-existent sidewalks, parking difficulties and the large number of vehicles traveling through town each day.

An urban renewal agency would help facilitate public health, safety and welfare of residents by addressing those and other issues, according to the resolution.

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