Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Protect our livable legacy

    Ketchum and Sun Valley are revising their comprehensive plans. We can hear the yawns, but it’s time for residents to wake up and pay attention unless they wish to risk being surprised when it’s too late to change anything.
    Good comprehensive plans are the rea-son the entire Sun Valley area has re-tained its charm by resisting efforts that would have erased or defaced it. Without plans, the area could have been strip-malled, highwayed, airported, bulldozed and channeled into something no one would recognize today.
    Instead of scenic sage-covered hills sur-rounding our cities and byways, we would see a net of ugly roads gouged into them.
    Instead of subdivisions built with wild-life and public access in mind, we would have little wildlife and access to public lands would have been blocked.
    Without comprehensive plans, noxious uses could have been located anywhere. The Big Wood River and Trail Creek could have been stripped of vegetation, dredged and mostly blocked from use. Open spaces and parks beloved and used by genera-tions of people might not exist at all.
    Businesses would not have benefitted from concentration in city cores, but in-stead have been strung about willy-nilly. Cars and trucks would rule us with little consideration for pedestrians. Public art would be nowhere.
    The things we enjoy today in our cities are not just the product of professional planners. They are the product of the comprehensive plans that residents thought about, debated in packed public hearings and in written comments. They are the product of good leadership and active citizenship.
    The cities will eventually hold hearings on new plans before each city council. Drafts of the plans are available on the cities’ websites. Residents and businesses that love their cities should get involved.
    They should honor the efforts of those who crafted earlier plans by ensuring that that the livable legacy of the valley goes on and isn’t destroyed by inattention.

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