Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Park to replace parking lot

Ketchum interim town plaza should be ready by mid-June

Express Staff Writer

Sun seekers and sandwich eaters will push out cars as Ketchum makes way for an interim plaza on the parking lot adjacent to Giacobbi Square.

The city is in the midst of formulating a downtown master plan—including a town square and pedestrian mall—but a year or more could pass before permanent plans are put to pavement.

The Ketchum City Council approved $14,527 during their meeting May 15 for the project. A portion of that had been earmarked for public restrooms, but those came in $10,000 under budget, so that amount will be redirected to the town plaza.

One of two public restrooms will be located on the square.

Carol Waller, executive director of the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors' Bureau, and Mike Turzian, owner of Sun Valley Garden Center, presented ideas for the plaza, which would occupy half the city-owned lots on the corner of East Avenue and Fourth Street.

Local businesses are donating trees and sod, with in-kind contributions totaling $34,000.

The Chamber will staff a kiosk booth during the summer to help answer visitors' questions.

In the plaza's center could have a fire pit or water feature, the space for which could accommodate a public Christmas tree.

Picnic tables, benches, trees, bike racks and a green area for the farmers' market and other events are also included in the plan.

"With Atkinsons' right across the street, everybody's looking for a place to have a sandwich," Turzian said. "We'll have good sized Aspens to cool this area off."

With a little topsoil and the trees, "for a temporary thing, I think that's probably as good as we can do," he said.

"In the best case scenario we'll be starting the (permanent) plaza two years from now," said Councilman Steven Shafran.

He said a temporary plaza was preferable to leaving a parking lot in the town's center.

"I think it's terrific," he said.

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