Friday, July 7, 2006

Ketchum seeks changes to Bravo concerts

Warm Springs venue prompts concerns about fire safety

Express Staff Writer

The thousands of fans who attended the Lyle Lovett concert Tuesday in Ketchum went to a show that almost wasn't.

Concerns over fire danger prompted the Ketchum City Council on Monday to very reluctantly approve a lease agreement with Sun Valley Co. for the Fourth of July show, held at the company-owned upper Greyhawk parking lot at the base of Bald Mountain in Warm Springs Village. The area is within the Ketchum city limits.

The council changed the wording of a resolution to signify approval of only one of three Bravo Entertainment concerts scheduled for this summer at the Warm Springs base area.

Bravo has scheduled Nickel Creek to perform at Warm Springs on Aug. 12 and the Doobie Brothers on Aug. 22.

"Sun Valley Co. agreed to let the city lease the Warm Springs parking lots (for the concerts)," City Administrator Ron LeBlanc said after the meeting. "Apparently, Sun Valley Co. doesn't want to work with Bravo. So the city was put in the middle."

One request Sun Valley Co. made was to have $3 million in insurance. Ketchum's insurance is $500,000 per the Idaho Tort Claims Act.

"We asked Bravo to pick up insurance above that amount to satisfy Sun Valley Co.," LeBlanc said. "They (Bravo) said all they had in place was $2 million. Sun Valley was gracious enough for this concert (to accept that amount)."

The insurance conundrum, which arose late in the permitting process, put Ketchum in a precarious position, said Councilman Steven Shafran.

"I wouldn't even be considering this if it weren't on the eve of the concert," he said.

The arrangement could have exposed Ketchum to a lawsuit above and beyond its half-million-dollar insurance cap, he said, potentially putting at risk all of the city's assets.

Tardy paperwork, plus a change in venue made the request different from last year's.

Previous Bravo concerts were held at the city's Park & Ride lot, at the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads.

"(They) were done on a different process," LeBlanc said. "The city owned the land so no (conditional-use permit) was needed."

And because the city owned the land, the tort claim cap of $500,000 protected the city.

Concert venue options diminished when the Wood River Community YMCA started to build its planned recreational facility on the Park & Ride lot.

The River Run base of Bald Mountain is an acceptable spot, but Bravo would have had to go through Sun Valley Co. to secure the site. Sun Valley Co. typically charges a fee for use and maintains control over concessions sales.

No Bravo representatives were present at Monday's meeting.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional-use permit June 26 for the first concert only.

Bravo Vice President Greg Marchant came before the P&Z that day to make his request.

"We've been doing this for more than 20 years," he said at that meeting. "We take our relationship with the neighbors and the town very seriously."

Jack Rutherford, Ketchum P&Z commissioner, told the City Council the P&Z shared its concerns.

"We felt very much as you five do," he said Monday. "We have serious issues with this concert venue. We need to have those resolved before concerts number two and three. Yes, we did agree to concert number one. But whatever (Ketchum interim fire chief) Mike (Elle) requests, he gets."

Elle's requests included no smoking at the concert and having Bravo pay for fire watch on the hill behind the lot.

"They assure me of a lot of things, but unless I'm there chasing them around, they don't happen," Elle said.

"We need these types of concerts to promote tourism," Elle added. But, "every year I deal with Bravo and it's the same thing. We need to send these guys a message. They didn't contact me until after the CUP (meeting June 26)."

Although the concert went off without a fire or major injury, not all went according to plan. The city was tallying up a list Wednesday of what went right and what went wrong—a list that the P&Z will review at its meeting on Monday, July 10, LeBlanc said.

One option the City Council discussed was to move the August concerts to the lower lot, creating a fire break with the upper lot. Parking, though, would be eliminated.

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