Friday, May 10, 2013

Ketchum OKs ‘walkability’ plan

But City Council puts gateway sign on ice

Express Staff Writer

Dale Bates, manager of the Ketchum Community Development Corp.’s Walkable Ketchum project, requests on Wednesday that the Ketchum City Council approve a construction contract for the project, which aims to make the city more pedestrian friendly and easier to navigate for visitors. Photo by Roland Lane

    The Ketchum City Council has unanimously approved a $94,500 contract with Ketchum-based Conrad Construction that will allow the Ketchum Community Development Corp. to move forward with the wayfinding portion of its $ $170,000 “Walkable Ketchum” project.
    The council approved the contract at a special meeting on Wednesday, following a council decision at a meeting in late April to delay its approval. At the meeting in April, Dale Bates, the project’s manager, requested that the council approve an $111,500 contract with Conrad to break ground on the project’s two parts—wayfinding and street lighting. However, the council only approved the $16,800 street lighting portion of the contract.
    At the April meeting, Ketchum developer Jack Bariteau voiced concerns about some of the proposed designs for signs. The council directed Bates to discuss the project with Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” and return in May with more design options.
    In an interview after the meeting on Wednesday, Bates said that when he discussed the project with Speck following the meeting in April, Speck gave the wayfinding portion of the project a thumbs-up.
    “He said, ‘If there’s anything wrong with it, it’s above my skill level to find it,’” Bates said.
    Bariteau said Wednesday that he commends the CDC for “attacking” the walkability issue, but again voiced concerns about the project’s proposed aesthetics, which he said seemed amateurish.
    “I feel frankly that we’re wasting our money, that we should look at this professionally,” he said. “We’re winding up with something that frankly isn’t going to distinguish the city of Ketchum in any way, shape or form.”
    CDC President Neil Bradshaw said the project has undergone a thorough public process, that the community approves of the designs and that one person’s opinion, even a “well-respected” person such as Bariteau, should not undermine that process.
    “We have to respect the community’s view,” he said. “We don’t always want to be addressing the last squeaky wheel at the last moment.”
    Bates said the project has conducted public outreach since March 2012.
    Council President Baird Gourlay said he “hears” Bariteau, but he doesn’t necessarily agree with him.
    “We’ve got to get going on the guts of this thing,” he said.
    However, the council members did voice some concerns about the aesthetics of a gateway sign proposed to mark the southern entrance to Ketchum. They directed Bates not to construct or install that sign until further notice.
    Bates said in the interview that the bulk of the project should be completed by July 4, but that any “bits and pieces” that are not done by then will not disrupt the flow of traffic, bicyclists or pedestrians over the summer.

Brennan Rego:

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