Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bob Jonas made false and misleading comments


    Bob Jonas spectacularly misspoke in his guest opinion in the Mountain Express last week.
    The major error was claiming that Hulen Meadows residents voted for Ketchum’s river park at our recent homeowner’s meeting. That is completely false. No such vote was proposed, considered, or is even possible. Our membership has limited powers to direct our board. A recent legal opinion, referred to at the meeting, clarifies that shareholders have no “power to manage this particular issue through direct vote.” Mr. Jonas’ wife, Sarah Michael, would also know this as a member of the association’s board. The two are in Alaska for three months, however, eliminating further questions. Ms. Michael, by the way, is one of two board members who supports the entire river park. The other eight members at the meeting personally stated their opposition to several, but not all, of its aspects.

Over 190 residents have petitioned Ketchum to significantly reduce existing park plans.

    Mr. Jonas also wrote that Hulen homeowners have been “involved … in the park’s design (for) four years.” Again, this is false. Over 190 residents have petitioned Ketchum to significantly reduce existing park plans; only about 20 people want the entire river park. At public hearings, we have repeatedly complained that Hulen Meadows has been shut out of the process. Indeed, Bob’s daughter, Mayor Nina Jonas, was invited to our recent homeowners’ meeting to discuss the pond and listen to our views—the first time for such a meeting. The mayor came with the city’s attorney, engineer, a Parks Department employee, and Scott Boettger as the Wood River Land Trust partner on the park.  
    The visitors were asked hard questions about both the river park and a proposed Ketchum well to be drilled at Sun Peak. Both projects were bundled together in the application to the BLM to assume ownership of 220 acres from Lake Creek to Sun Peak’s picnic area. (Publicity by Ketchum and the Land Trust barely refer to the proposed well.) Mayor Jonas often turned to her staff for answers but answers were equivocal and residents remained dissatisfied. Mr. Jonas was present during the strained Q&A.
    In one striking exchange, a resident asked: “If the BLM doesn’t approve the well, will the city proceed with the park?” The mayor answered, “I don’t know.” This seemed to verify some residents’ feelings that the river park is a front for the well. After all, Ketchum has applied for a well at other sites and been denied each time. One also wonders why the city has spent $600,000 (half city and half private dollars) on river park planning (not counting staff time) but has no commitment to the river project.
    Mr. Jonas is truthful when he says a large majority of residents want (as he does) pond excavation, in-stream drop structure repair, a pedestrian bridge, a pathway to the pond for the disabled, a picnic table or two, and a well-placed single seat toilet. There are options, however, for the size and placement of these elements (e.g. west or east side of the river) that would reduce the impact and cost of Ketchum’s current plan. A significant number of residents would rather see no construction anywhere at any time on the river’s west side.  
    Mr. Jonas also correctly states that Hulen Meadows enjoys exceptional access to public lands and trail systems. He omits that these amenities are open to the public year-round (and well-used) with existing parking for over 100 cars. He fails to mention planned parking on the resident elk herd territory.
    What your neighbors want, Mr. Jonas, is a restored pond and drop structures with wildlife protection. Please don’t misrepresent our interests.

    The signatories of this letter are all residents of Hulen Meadows.

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