Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hailey has big plans for rodeo site

Historic venue could include hockey, skating and concerts

Express Staff Writer

Plans to redevelop the Hailey Rodeo Grounds are moving forward. Photo by David N. Seelig

The city of Hailey, working in partnership with the Sawtooth Rangers and Hailey Ice, is moving forward with plans to remodel and expand the historic Hailey Rodeo Grounds at the southern entrance to town.

A familiar Western mural marks the rodeo grounds, which were built in 1948. Improvement of the property ranked as the highest priority city development project in a recent citizen satisfaction survey.

City officials are seeking qualified architectural firms or individuals with design expertise for assistance with the drafting of designs, which will include a hockey rink, an expanded skatepark and improved seating for the Sawtooth Rangers' Fourth of July Rodeo. The new and improved rodeo grounds will also be used for concerts, farmers markets and other community events.

Becki Keefer, project coordinator for the Hailey Parks and Lands Board, has spearheaded the effort to gather information on a new master plan for the rodeo grounds at the behest of the City Council last summer.

"My goals have been to maximize the use of the property, continue the Fourth of July Rodeo, and include hockey on the property," she said Monday.

The Sawtooth Rangers riding club has leased the grounds from the city for 50 years, mostly to hold its annual summer rodeo. Also on the property is the Hailey Skate Park, which will see an expansion of its beginner and intermediate terrain under the new design plans.

Hailey Ice is a nonprofit organization that has raised enough money in recent years to build a refrigerated ice rink, but is in search of a location.

The city issued an open request for statements of qualifications last week to gather a pool of architects and designers interested in drawing up a new master plan.

"We still don't have any money, but we are working on getting a plan together," Keefer said. "We are hoping there are architects who will help us pro bono, or at least keep their fee affordable."

So far the city has what Keefer calls a "cocktail napkin" design, which calls for organized parking spaces, improved landscaping, a smaller rodeo arena, public restrooms and preservation of the historic "white wall" and murals that mark the property's southern end.

The Hailey Historic Preservation Commission is researching the historic significance of the white wall, to recommend how much of it should be preserved in the new master plan.

A preliminary plan for the property includes a shade-cloth cover over the ice, similar to the cover used at the Sun Valley Lodge skating rink. Dirt will be brought in to cover the rink for equestrian events.

To be considered, qualified firms or individuals must submit a full statement of qualifications to the office of the city engineer at 115 S. Main St. no later than 5 p.m. on March 31.

The mayor and City Council will select a short list at the council meeting on April 13, and those firms will be asked to submit proposals for completing the project as outlined by the city.

Contact Tom Hellen at 788-9830, ext. 14 for additional information concerning the project.

Tony Evans:

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