Friday, February 10, 2006

Visitors' center may move, again

Express Staff Writer

The migratory Ketchum visitors' center may find itself in a new location this summer, at least for a while.

A building in Ketchum's Forest Service Park could be a good, if temporary, venue for the center, say some city officials.

"It would be much more visible than where they are now, and it would save the city a lot of money," Ketchum City Planner Stefanie Webster told the Ketchum Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, Feb. 8.

A city employee is living in the small building proposed for the visitor center but will be vacating the property this summer.

The Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber & Visitors Bureau has been looking for a permanent home for its Ketchum visitor center after the city traded the building's former site on Main Street for a vacant land parcel near City Hall.

The visitor center is now located in the Copper Ridge building on Washington Avenue North.

The city is working on a downtown master plan, preliminary ideas for which include a visitors' center and plaza in the city's core, adjacent to Giacobbi Square.

One idea floated by economic development consultant Tom Hudson is to put a visitors' center in a historic First Congregational Church, commonly known as Louie's, and making it a focal point of that plaza.

The master plan has moved into Phase 2 of three, and any design plans won't be solidified for months.

If a visitors' center is incorporated into the downtown plan, the center would still need temporary accommodation for at least a year, Webster said.

Carol Waller, the chamber's executive director, said Thursday she needed more information on the proposal before commenting on it.

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