Friday, July 3, 2009

Ketchum to consider Olympic park

Idea for park to honor athletes takes shape


By JON DUVAL
Express Staff Writer

Dick Fosbury

Former Olympians and other world-class athletes of the Wood River Valley may soon be honored in a permanent manner.

The Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with the Ketchum Community Development Corp. and the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, has started to look into a possible memorial in the city's Town Plaza to recognize the area's elite athletes.

Karoline Droege, director of development for the ski education foundation, said she originally thought of the idea as a way of acknowledging Ketchum and Sun Valley's history as a ski community, specifically in light of the achievements of its skiers at the Olympic or World Cup level.

Droege said the idea has expanded to include athletes from other sports, although the criteria have yet to be determined. She said preliminary research has already turned up about 40 people who competed or coached in the Olympic Games and are connected to the valley in some way.

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Also uncertain is the design. One idea that has been floated is a permanent stage in Ketchum's Town Plaza adorned with plaques engraved with the athletes' names and accomplishments.

Ketchum Parks Superintendent Jen Smith said her department is scheduled to complete a parks master plan by March 2010 and that the idea for an Olympic park will be incorporated.

"There seems to be enough enthusiasm behind this project to see it happen," Smith said. "We've just been brainstorming at this point, but I envision a call for artists and designers and see what we get back."

Droege said Neil Morrow, executive director of the Ketchum Community Development Corp., has expressed confidence in raising funds for this kind of project through grants and donations.

At a Ketchum City Council meeting on June 15, members of the council and Mayor Randy Hall expressed interest in and support for the idea. They did not, however, make any suggestions for a design for the park.




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