Friday, February 25, 2011

Living with consequences

Decisions have consequences. Sometimes they're deadly.

Such was the decision by the Ketchum City Council in 1985 to reject the proposed 282-unit luxury Greyhawk Hotel at the base of Bald Mountain in Warm Springs.

The hotel, proposed by Daon Development Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, would have been 60 feet high with a bar, a restaurant and a 7,000-square-foot convention facility, plus some retail and office space.

Debate over the hotel was intense, and looking back, it was predictable. Three hundred people turned out for a single public hearing on the hotel, whose consideration spanned more than two years.

The neighbors complained that the traffic generated by the hotel would destroy a family-friendly neighborhood. Some residents said the hotel was just too big. Others complained about the "change in character" the hotel would bring.

The City Council hung its decision on traffic, held that even with improvements Warm Springs Road couldn't carry the load, and voted 3-1 to reject the hotel.

Twenty-five years later, up to 90 percent of the Warm Springs "family" neighborhood is largely empty most of the year. The development of a day lodge at River Run diverted skiers who once accessed the mountain at Warm Springs. Retail has shrunk and the area has filled in with largely empty townhouses and single-family units. The road is much as it was.

And, in this time of great economic trials, the Sun Valley area is lying in the bed of its own making without something every other major ski area has: ski-in, ski-out lodging facilities.

A pity.

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