Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Build it and they will come?

Ketchum's mayor and council need to take a breath and review the city's priorities before they commit money to further development of the Town Square.

A design for development of the square put together by the Community Development Corp. has a lot to recommend it as a year-round gathering place.

The lion's share of the estimated $474,500 needed for construction on land owned by the city would come from private donors who are showing a lot of support for the project.

The fact that 17 parking spaces would be replaced with 16 parking spaces should also make the project palatable to businesses in the heavily trafficked area.

The CDC wants the city to foot part of the bill. Members of the council are enthusiastic, and Mayor Randy Hall urged them to find $100,000 for the project.


Just this month, council members also expressed grave concern about the dismal state of the economy as analyzed in a report by Sun Valley City Council member Bob Youngman. He concluded that the main thing the city could do to restore the sagging economy is to do better marketing. That will require money—lots of it.

As it is, the city spends $290,000 a year on marketing. With money from the city of Sun Valley and the Idaho Travel Council, the area spends in the neighborhood of $700,000 annually. Against multi-millions spent by other ski resorts, it's tiny.

What should Ketchum spend its money on, a cool town square for existing visitors or more marketing? It's a tough question that deserves some tough-minded deliberation and a well-calculated answer.

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