Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Visitors Center 2.0

The heated controversy swirling around the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency's solicitation of a food and beverage operator for the agency's building next to Town Square is threatening to divert the focus from the important need to create a new and lively visitors center to showcase the Sun Valley area.

Neither the URA nor the restaurants that objected to the concept should let the visitors center become a casualty of the volatile mixture of politics and economics suffusing the conflict.

The URA has reissued its call for tenants and backed off from limiting them solely to food and beverage operators in order to see what other beneficial combinations might surface.

A visitors center for a place of Sun Valley's caliber should be more than "visitors center classic"—a desk, a phone, a computer, pamphlets, maps and magazines.

The Sun Valley Marketing Alliance wants to create Visitors Center 2.0, worthy of notice with multi-media exhibits and other displays that quickly connect visitors with the energy of all the area offers.

The challenge for the SVMA is to bring together the pieces of the area that reside with Sun Valley Co., the Ski and Heritage Museum, the Ore Wagon Museum, The Community Library, the Hailey Library, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the Sun Valley Center and the various festival and event organizers in the valley in order to tell a good story.

Whatever transpires, the visitors center should be the centerpiece of the building, not an easily overlooked afterthought occupying a dusty corner. It may be integrated, but shouldn't be assimilated.

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