Friday, June 29, 2012

An opportunity was missed


For the past four and a half years, we have been trying to create a project that provides a combination of recreational amenities, municipal improvements, continued agriculture and economic growth in a balanced, smart-growth proposal. While we are disappointed that this proposal was not accepted, we are more concerned with how the process was executed. Each member of the Hailey City Council and the mayor has stated that they think Quigley should be part of the city of Hailey, but they are unwilling to provide enough information to make that a reality.

During the initial discussions on the project under Mayor Rick Davis, we modified the plan based upon input from the council on numerous occasions. Even before submitting our revised proposal, we met with Mayor Davis and council members Martha Burke, Don Keirn and Fritz Haemmerle to show them an outline of the project elements. We were encouraged to proceed.

With any proposal, especially one of this scale and size, we expect there to be pieces that people like and ones they do not. In order for us to adjust the plan, we need to understand those concerns, and to do so there need to be discussions and conversations, which in this case were one-sided. We only received feedback from the City Council and mayor during the hearing when they denied the application, even after asking for information on numerous occasions.

After the hearing, we contacted city staff to see if there was an opportunity to hear more specifically about their concerns and to see if we could modify the plan to address them. The City Council is unwilling to discuss the project with us and the feedback from the staff has been limited at best. This whole process has become so politicized that the council has become paralyzed for fear of being attacked in the meetings and the press for making "backroom" deals. Our intention with negotiations was not to make any "deals" but to get the information needed to present a revised proposal.

We also never issued any ultimatums, but with the way the application was processed, presenting another project to the city is not productive.

In regard to the hiking trails and Nordic skiing on the property, we presented a plan that would have enhanced and expanded those amenities. While pursuing a plan under Blaine County's jurisdiction, we are uncertain of the future of those uses on the property. We are sorry about this, as we enjoyed those recreational opportunities as well.

What has also been disturbing is the way the discussion has shifted from the merits of the project to the people involved. The review should be focused on whether the proposal was in the best interest of the city, not whether the developer has lived in the community long enough or is a "good guy."

We are more disappointed in the process than the outcome and are sorry that this opportunity to include significant added benefits to the city of Hailey was missed.

David Hennessy is a partner in Quigley Green Owners, the group proposing to develop Quigley Canyon.

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