I do not represent any particular entity, but I have called upon our local restaurants time and time again in fundraising efforts for local charities, and they have always come through—even in these current harsh economic times. Their dedication to Blaine County has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local causes. If not the backbone, they are certainly the spine of our community and have earned the right to be heard concerning important decisions affecting Ketchum/Sun Valley, along with individual residents.
I am uncomfortable envisioning a visitors' bureau in this community that would not recognize and promote these valuable contributors to our well-being, but instead offer restaurant services in competition—particularly when the majority of our food and beverage providers are within a few blocks of the visitors' center.
To me, the larger issue is whether the needs of our community are best served by simply renting space to the highest bidder, or is the greater good to see how that space might best fulfill unmeet needs? We do not have an adequate public indoor space within the core of Ketchum to hold large meetings, presentations or arts-and-crafts fairs, or indeed, provide an opportunity to move an outdoor activity in the Town Square indoors in inclement weather.
A free cup of coffee, a clean restroom and an opportunity to buy a souvenir baseball cap, mug or sweatshirt should certainly be provided by a visitors' center, but the main purpose should be to promote all the area has to offer, including a welcoming environment for locals and tourists to come together and get to know one another.
I would hope that it is not too late to hold a public dialogue on alternatives, rather than focus on only one option.
Peggy Elliott Goldwyn