Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hailey Rodeo project on schedule

Public art components put on hold

Express Staff Writer

The new rodeo arena at the south end of Hailey is taking shape, thanks to a $3.5 million bond passed last year by Hailey voters. Photo by David N. Seelig

With less than eight weeks to go before the next Fourth of July Sawtooth Rangers Days of the Old West Rodeo, work crews are scrambling to finish a new rodeo arena in Hailey.

The Sawtooth Rangers have held a rodeo on the site every year since 1947.

"They are moving pretty fast out there," said Hailey Public Works Director Tom Hellen, who is overseeing all phases of the project.

Builders are focused on getting a bare-bones arena open by July 3, a deadline set by city officials last year. Because of this deadline, a planned skate park expansion and interpretive center adjacent to the arena will have to wait until later this summer or next year. So will about $70,000 worth of public art components required by city ordinance.

"The public art is not necessary to get the rodeo arena open," said Mike Bulls, architect for the new arena.

Bulls said murals of rodeo clowns and bucking broncos, salvaged from the "white wall" that marked the rodeo arena at the south end of Hailey for more than 60 years, also will not be on display for the 2011 rodeo.

Bulls said a plan to incorporate the murals on the south side of the rodeo bleachers was abandoned due to "exposure and maintenance" issues.

The murals are in storage near the Woodside wastewater treatment facility, Hellen said. It will be up to the City Council to decide what to do with them.

Last May, Hailey voters approved a $3.5 million bond issue to help fund a $6 million to $7 million redevelopment of the rodeo grounds. They were told the redevelopment would include a new rodeo arena, ice rink and recreation center, interpretive center and an expanded skate park.

The ice rink, begun by Hailey Ice last year, is on indefinite hold due to an unexpected delay in funding from an anonymous donor.

The new metal "multi-use" rodeo arena bleachers are about 15 feet taller than the old wooden ones. They will seat 3,000 spectators, about 500 more than the old arena.

"People wanted to have rock concerts in there, but I didn't know about jumping up and down on those old bleachers. It will be much safer now," said Hellen.

The nonprofit Sawtooth Rangers riding club, which built the old arena in 1947, leased the city-owned property for $1 per year for decades. Beginning this year the Sawtooth Rangers will pay the city of Hailey $2,500 per year for a weekend rental of the new arena, plus $1 per ticket sold over 2,500.

The Hailey City Council is working with the Hailey Parks and Lands Board on rental policies for smaller events, such as 4-H club and equestrian events.

In other Hailey news:

( The Hailey Rodeo Park Interpretive Exhibit received a $4,000 grant from the Idaho Humanities Council for "Rodeo: A Story of Community," an exhibit planned for the rodeo grounds interpretive center.

Tony Evans:

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