Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rodeo bond still on

$5.5 million construction plans could create local jobs

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey rodeo grounds redevelopment project took another step forward Monday when the Hailey City Council held a second reading of a proposed bond election ordinance to raise money for the $6 million project.

If the ordinance passes a third reading on April 19, voters will decide on May 25 whether to raise taxes to pay for $3.5 million of the project costs.

If approved by voters, the bond will increase property taxes in Hailey for 10 years by $33 for every $100,000 in property valuation.

"I think everyone sees the positive aspects of the whole project in terms of economic development and recreational amenities," Mayor Rick Davis said in an interview.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Geoffrey Moore has spoken out twice against the bond, as a Hailey resident, saying the town can ill afford a tax increase during the recession.

Yet the project could provide employment for construction workers like Moore, who have had a hard time finding work lately.

"The council wants to keep the construction work local as much as possible," architect Nicholas Latham said in an interview.

The council instructed Latham to proceed with construction drawings for the project. He said those drawings will go out to bid sometime this summer. The city's Parks and Lands Board, which has been organizing the project, hopes to break ground by July 5.

Over the past decade, the nonprofit organization Hailey Ice has been searching for a location for a covered ice rink, and has raised about $500,000 toward the $2.4 million cost of a rink at the rodeo grounds. Latham said refrigeration costs for the rink have come in at $100,000 less than expected, allowing for more square footage inside the facility and a small elevator for disabled access.

The new rodeo arena would cost about $1.9 million to build. An expansion of the skatepark would cost about $200,000. Infrastructure and parking additions to the entire property would cost about $600,000.

The planned visitor center would cost $364,000.

Ketchum-based architectural firm Ruscitto/Latham/Blanton is set to be paid $375,000 for design work on the entire rodeo grounds project.

City Attorney Ned Williamson said bidding instructions for the construction work would be written to favor local contractors.

"Preferences for locals will be built into it," he said.

Tony Evans:

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