Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Heads up, Ketchum!

Consultants are nearing the end of the design stage of a new plan for downtown development and parking in Ketchum.

It's time to pay attention, because the rubber is about to meet the road.

The Ketchum City Council will meet with the Planning and Zoning Commission at 5:30 p.m. tonight to explore and discuss what consultants have drafted to date. A public hearing on the city's Downtown Regulating Code is set for Monday's 5:30 p.m. P&Z meeting.

The joint meeting of city leaders may be one of the last before a whole new plan is placed before the public in late July.

The City Council enacted an emergency moratorium on downtown development last fall when it looked liked like high-end residential development was threatening to overwhelm other downtown uses and that banks were becoming the dominant form of commercial activity.

The city slammed on the brakes and hired planning consultant Tom Hudson of Moscow, Idaho. He and his team have researched and designed downtown development options. What's been presented to date is available on the Web at

The team concluded that Ketchum is in crisis. It examined how to make downtown more user-friendly. It evaluated building densities, heights, pressures on businesses and the disappearance of affordable workforce housing. It also looked at traffic and parking congestion.

If Ketchum takes the consultants' advice, it will have to move quickly to put new ordinances out for public consideration and possible passage before the moratorium expires.

The process deserves the concentrated time and attention of the whole community.

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