Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What will the valley be in 2020?

WREP director leads virtual tour


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

"Imagine yourself 10 years older," Doug Brown told an audience of business and city leaders at the Roosevelt Grill in Ketchum on Wednesday, May 12.

Brown led the group on a virtual tour of the Wood River Valley in 2020, guiding them through an imaginary bus ride of the area while describing economic improvements that could be accomplished if the valley works together.

The virtual tour was the third of its kind given by the director of Wood River Economic Partnership, with Ketchum Rotary and the city of Hailey previously being led through the future.

The pretend expedition began by leaving the Roosevelt and the valley, landing back at the new airport, halfway between Shoshone and Bellevue. But, Brown said, the airport is no longer new.

"It's been here for five years," he said.

The group then hopped on an electric Mountain Rides bus with wireless Internet capabilities and a bar.

"You can liquor up on the bar and bus," he joked, as they traveled north on Highway 75 toward Bellevue, taking a right at the bottom of Timmerman Hill toward Carey.

Upon arriving in Carey, he said, it's immediately evident that new businesses have spawned, and previously empty homes have been filled, probably an effect of the new airport.

The bus then turns around and takes Gannett Road north to Bellevue, where it connects to Highway 75. At the intersection is a four-lane roundabout.

"Bellevue has even gone green," Brown said. "They have LED streetlights ... and there are actually people on the streets in Bellevue. I've never seen pedestrians in Bellevue before."

The bus continues north past the old Friedman Memorial Airport and rodeo grounds, now complete with a year-round ice-skating rink and a sign listing summer musical events.

"Hailey is just totally going for it," he said, adding that the senior-living facility has been built.

The bus then exits Hailey on the way to Ketchum.

"What, this is a four-lane highway," Brown said. "It used to be two lanes, then three, then two."

The bus then reaches the day's second roundabout at Serenade Lane at the southern edge of Ketchum and turns three-quarters of a circle to head toward River Run. Streets are laid out for the couple hundred housing units planned at the 138-acre base village. Then the bus nears Bald Mountain, the riders seeing Sun Valley Resort's ski-in, ski-out hotel under construction, and a plaza.

The bus then travels the back way through town toward Warm Springs, running into the Sun Valley Center for the Arts building across from the post office, Northwood Place apartments next to the Wood River Community YMCA, and a third roundabout at the new Warm Springs Ranch Resort under construction.

The bus turns back into Ketchum, this time taking Main Street, and stumbles upon a gondola traveling overhead through town to Sun Valley.

In Sun Valley, the White Clouds homes are under construction and nine more golf holes have been added. The pavilion has been winterized for year-round events.

The bus takes a 180-degree turn back down Sun Valley Road, meeting Main Street in Ketchum.

"Look to the left," Brown said.

It's Bald Mountain Lodge. And Main Street is vibrant again.

That's where the bus stops and the tour ended, just where it began, the Roosevelt Grille.

"How is all this going to happen?" Brown asked.

People need to act, he said, to get involved in not only groups that interest them, but politics—elected officials can't do it all.

Brown said it isn't a stretch to imagine many of the valley's additions described in his tour. Bald Mountain Lodge, Warm Springs Ranch Resort, the roundabouts, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts building and the River Run base village are already on their way.

Of course, there's still no guarantee, but they can be helped along.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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