Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ketchum eyes control of Hulen Meadows Pond

Express Staff Writer

After confusion surrounding responsibility for Hulen Meadows Pond was highlighted last summer, the city of Ketchum is hoping to step into that role if the Idaho Bureau of Land management allows it.

Ketchum Interim City Administrator Jim Jaquet presented a plan to the City Council Monday, April 21, under which the city would apply for a Recreation and Public Purposes Project, effectively giving the city control over two large tracts of land.

Jaquet said the city, in coordination with the Wood River Land Trust, would apply for a patent or long-term lease on a parcel of land extending from Sun Peak up to the southern edge of Lake Creek, which would include the Hulen Meadows Pond, north of Ketchum. A second parcel, which would be part of the same application, would lie west of Atkinson Park, at the confluence of Warm Springs Creek and the Big Wood River.

Jaquet said the advantage of such a project would be to give a sense of permanence to the recreational activities that already take place at those sites. He added that a patent would be preferable, as it would not cost the city any money and would not have a termination date like a lease.

However, in order to apply for a patent, the city must complete a management plan to outline the maintenance of the areas.

Wood River Land Trust representative Kathryn Goldman said the management plan would take 30 to 60 days to complete, and Jaquet said it would have to be approved by the council.

The pond, dug in 1990 as part of a highway construction project, became a matter of controversy after it began to fill with gravel and local residents asked that it be dredged.

- At the same meeting, Mayor Randy Hall announced that a major biotechnology firm is researching opening an office in Ketchum.

Hall said California-based Santa Cruz Biotechnologies is performing due diligence on buying a building in the city, and if successful would have approximately 45 employees at the Ketchum facility.

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