Friday, March 24, 2006

Thin excuses

Ketchum gave the city of Sun Valley a cold reception this week when asked for help in sorting out what to do with the rundown area along Highway 75 known as McHanville.

The area lies in the county just south of Sun Valley and Ketchum. It contains a large number of mobile homes and a smattering of tiny homes. It also holds a mishmash of light-industrial uses that have not been allowed to expand. St. Luke's Hospital sits next door.

A few attempts have been made to untangle the area so that landowners and businesses could invest in improvements with confidence or be compensated for a loss of use. None have been successful.

Getting a plan in place is more urgent than ever. An expanded Highway 75 through the area could further restrict uses and make it more unattractive. Being close to both cities and their KART bus system, the area is prime for development of high-density affordable housing and annexation by one of the cities.

Ketchum council members pleaded poverty and overwork when asked to join the city of Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District, and Blaine County in hiring an outside planning firm to sort it out. Ketchum's share would be $22,000.

The council said the money wasn't budgeted, and the city has too much on its plate. The excuses are thin.

Maybe Ketchum would warm up if someone plans a McHanville skate park. A couple of years ago, it found $224,000 for a skate park—even though it had not been budgeted and other needs went begging.

Ketchum should jump at the chance to jointly plan a blighted area that most people think is part of the city. The timing is right and the cost is reasonable.

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