Friday, January 20, 2012

Ideas percolate for Ketchum’s future


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Planning Our Common Future focus-group participants discussed ways to improve Ketchum through the comprehensive plan update. Two sessions took place Wednesday at the Community Library in Ketchum. Above, John Griffith, Scott Boettger, Jini Griffith, Rich Fabiano, Toni Bogue and Pam Britton discuss their ideas during the noon session. Photo by David N. Seelig

Finding problems typically is easier than solving them. But as Ketchum delves into its comprehensive plan update, citizens are stepping forward to help figure out both what could be improved and how improvements can be accomplished.

The city organized two workshops Wednesday at the Community Library to gather input on main themes developed at the comp plan kickoff meeting last October.

Topics that rose to the top were strengthening the economy, building tourism, making the community "greener," boosting community vitality, maintaining small-town character, providing housing diversity, drawing youth to the area and improving mobility.

"It's so much about our citizens ... and what you think about our future," Joyce Allgaier, planning manager, told the first group.

Participants, about 40 at the lunchtime session and 35 at the evening session, broke into groups to brainstorm ideas.

Meeting facilitators handed out suggested questions and guided groups through 30-minute discussions.

Participants in the "becoming greener" group at noon debated ways to boost environmental awareness and sustainable practices.

Dale Bates suggested approaching homeowners associations about relaxing rules that inhibit green practices. Some associations require green lawns, as opposed to xeriscaped, low-water lawns, while others prohibit clotheslines for air-drying laundry and visible solar collectors.

The "vitality" group talked about what that concept means and how to achieve it. Lee Chubb hoped to draw more young people to avoid "gilded ghost towns." He said he gauges a town's vitality by how involved residents are in their community and whether they support arts and culture offerings.

"If we can create reasons for different demographics to be here, that would create vitality," said Ben Young, vitality group facilitator.

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Mobility group participant Anne Corrock said better street lighting and more sidewalks would improve safety and encourage more people to visit.

"(Some people) don't like to come here because it's hard to walk around," she said.

Participants in the building tourism group discussed ways to promote the town to visitors who don't want to just ski.

"It gets back to the series of amenities and how you market them," said Harry Griffith.

Ideas floated were food festivals and events that involve visitors in Ketchum's heritage and "locals" culture.

Attracting a younger demographic can be tough due to the cost of living, said many participants. But amenities and activities geared toward that age group can help draw them in.

"Look what's taking place over at Dollar [Mountain]," said Rich Fabiano, referring to the terrain park. "It's absolutely amazing."

Charles Friedman said he came to the noon meeting to help keep Ketchum the lively place that made him move here in the first place.

"The future of the town is important to me," he said. "It's important to see that the town survives, succeeds and grows. I don't want to live in a dying town. I want to make sure all the things that attracted people here continue and that we improve on those when we can."

Allgaier said Thursday she was pleased with the depth of input attendees provided.

"People were very thoughtful and willing to build upon ideas and discuss them," she said in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express. "This kind of dialogue is really beneficial to building an understanding between people as to how our community works and what people would like to see Ketchum become."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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