Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Support levy for our ‘crown jewel’


    As the board of directors for the Blaine County Recreation District, we have proposed a ballot resolution for the purpose of restoring the Wood River Trail to its original condition. On May 21, the voters of Blaine County will have the opportunity to vote in this special levy election to reconstruct, resurface and rehabilitate the existing 20-mile, multi-use path from Bellevue to north of Ketchum.
    The year-round Wood River trail was constructed from 1984 to 1990 with a tremendous total community collaboration, and has proved to be an important asset to the county for walking, hiking, biking, running, roller-blading and cross-country skiing. It has gotten a lot of use over the years, and it’s beginning to show its age. Indeed, some parts of the trail are approaching 30 years of use.
    This resolution for a temporary two-year levy was passed after due diligence and the completion of engineering and cost studies to assess the current condition and remaining useful life of the Wood River Trail. Those studies indicate that we are entering the phase where the deterioration will accelerate quickly and to the point where a total, and much more expensive, rebuild will likely be needed if we do not address this today. Studies also indicate that while we have been diligent in maintaining the trail and have extended many sections beyond the typical 20- to 25-year life, some of the maintenance we are currently doing no longer has a material effect on improving or extending the life of certain sections of the trail.
    Our current budget of approximately $3,100,000 is comprised of approximately $1,100,000 of tax revenue with the balance coming from private contributions and user fees. While that budget provides us with the funding needed to maintain the path for its normal lifespan, it does not provide enough to fund something as significant as the reconstruction of the Wood River Trail. The one-time levy requests funding sufficient to meet the cost of the improvements as determined by the engineering studies and would authorize an additional levy in the amount of $1,750,000 in each of two fiscal years beginning Oct. 1, 2013, and ending September 30, 2015, for a total additional levy of $3,500,000.   
    The Wood River Trail is, and has always been, the “crown jewel” of the Blaine County Recreation District and serves both the residents and visitors of Blaine County. With well over 300,000 user visits per year, it connects the community and ranks among the top of the recreational assets in our beautiful county. In addition to its many recreational uses, it has also become an alternative to motorized transportation for many, and certainly adds to our local economy in terms of recreational opportunities as well as property values.    
    Thank you for taking the time to become educated about this proposal and for making your voice heard at the ballot box on May 21. If you have had a chance to come to one of our public meetings over the past two months, thank you for taking the time out of your evening to attend.  

    The Blaine County Recreation District board of directors includes Tim Hamilton, Mark Mary and Mark Gilbreath.


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