Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fix the pond, but keep it simple

    The Hulen Meadows pond has been an asset to the valley since 1990. It was created when the Idaho Transportation Department excavated the land to provide gravel for road construction. Many other groups were involved: Bureau of Land Management, Ketchum, and the county—all taking joint responsibility for pond maintenance. 
    For a number of years, the pond was a perfect venue for hanging out and for contemplation just outside of town in natural surroundings with wildlife and quiet, respectful use by kayakers, families and others.    
    Then came 2006.  The pond had not been dredged in 16 years. The hundred-year flood blocked the river opening to the pond and it became landlocked. A potential health hazard emerged. Still, nothing happened. No previous commitments were honored.
    A few years later, the Wood River Land Trust proposed a Hulen Meadows Site Restoration, including excavation and river repair. It was a simple, inexpensive way to protect what people considered a rural gem.
    In December 2012, the simple plans for pond and river assistance morphed into a greatly expanded and far more expensive park. To date, Ketchum has spent over $300,000, with an additional $300,000 from donors, on the park’s design. Where is Ketchum getting this money and who is driving the project? Is the tail wagging the dog? Is this a real city need and a proper priority?
    The majority of Hulen Meadows residents support the basics of the plan in concert with many other community members. We want to keep it simple, as low cost as possible, restore its flood mitigation and kayaking functions, build a walking bridge and enable disabled access.  
    “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it in the future.”  We’ve ignored the pond for almost a quarter of a century.  Now, let’s get it right.
Mary Jane Conger



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