Friday, February 22, 2008

Developers unveil vision for Quigley Canyon

Development promises to be environmentally friendly

Express Staff Writer

Tom Kopf, of DTJ Design in Boulder, Colo., discusses plans for an ambitious development of Quigley Canyon east of Hailey. Developers presented their plan for the proposed development at a public meeting Wednesday evening. The event was hosted by the Blaine County Recreation District. Photo by David N. Seelig

Visionary plans for the development of Quigley Canyon east of Hailey were unveiled Wednesday night. They're plans that promise housing for 1,000 people, protected wildlife habitat and preservation of big game migration pathways, low impact on the environment and affordable golf for the common folk of Blaine County.

"Quigley's a fantastic canyon," said Dave Hennessy, owner of Ketchum-based Hennessy Co., one of the firms involved in the proposed development. "We want to make this a place where people will want to go and be part of."

The public was provided its first look at detailed plans for the development during a meeting at Wood River High School hosted by the Blaine County Recreation District. The development involves a 1.5-mile stretch of land now mostly used for agriculture.

No agreement with the rec district yet exists, but the district's directors see the plan as a way to create vast new recreational opportunities.

The land abuts the city of Hailey and developers have submitted a request for annexation.

"This is one of the areas that the city has identified as an annexation zone," said Hennessy, when asked by an audience member about the prospects of Hailey's granting the request.

Questions were also raised about the economics of the proposal, in light of the current economic downtrend and local housing glut.

"This development will generate economic development within the city of Hailey," Hennessy said. "We're confident that after the approval process, hopefully the housing market will come back."

Homes to fit any budget

The development proposes 379 homes, some for the common folk, others for the somewhat wealthy and still others for the extremely wealthy. The development is split up into three areas—Down Canyon, Mid Canyon and Up Canyon.

Down Canyon would have 203 homes. It lies closest to Hailey and would be "more urban in character," said Tom Kopf, of DTJ Design in Boulder, Colo., the company that designed the plan. He said the homes would be built affordable for "first-time buyers" and would be "a place for young families."

The Down Canyon area would feature a small storefront area, and a large park that developers intend to become a "neighborhood center," featuring an ice skating pond, a trail system, a stage for concerts and a children's playground.

Lots would be larger and homes more expensive in Mid Canyon, where 108 houses are proposed.

Sixty-eight homes are planned for Up Canyon, with lot sizes ranging from one to five acres.

Golf for the masses

A major component of the development would be an 18-hole golf course, built by the developers and then deeded to the rec district.

Jim Keating, rec district executive director, said a long-time goal of the district has been to build a golf course that provides "public-accessible, affordable golf."

Former rec district board member Keith Perry, who is now serving as a volunteer for development of the course, said rates for Blaine County residents would range from $25 to $35 for 18 holes of golf. He said some tee times would be reserved for out-of-towners who would be charged about $100 to play.

Money raised would be used to benefit other rec district programs.

Perry said the golf course will likely be one of the nicest in Idaho.

The golf course clubhouse and restaurant would be used in the winter by nordic skiers.

Eric Rector, rec district director of trails, said the development would allow groomed trails in Quigley Canyon to be expanded to 24 kilometers. The district now maintains only 10 kilometers of groomed trails in the canyon.

Jim Hamilton, district board president, said the development dovetails nicely with the district's goals.

"Our motives are purely to do what's right for the public and create recreational opportunities for the future," he said.

Environmentally friendly

Kopf, of DTJ Design, described the proposed development as a "low-impact community," meaning it would have as little impact as possible on the environment. Limited street lighting, use of wind and solar energy and use of native plants are some of the features he described.

Much of the paving would be done with porous materials to allow water to flow back into the ground. Streets would be kept narrow to minimize storm runoff.

Restrictions would be placed on home sites in the Up Canyon portion of the development, to minimize disturbance of the land and minimize irrigation needs.

Public trails would wind through the development. Open space would be maintained and would be accessible to the public. Kopf said "wildlife corridors" will be left open throughout the development so as not to restrict migration routes of deer and elk.

Quigley Creek, whose course was diverted when the land became agricultural, would be restored, and Quigley pond, on the eastern edge of the development, would be rejuvenated.

"The idea is, let's take this and restore it back to its original condition," Kopf said.

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