Wednesday, September 17, 2014

River park would degrade the neighborhood

    It’s been an idyllic summer at our home in Flowers Mill. Black bear, two families of deer, a three-week visit by a cow moose and her twin calves, and just two days ago, 12 elk. But, alas, I fear this may be the last summer of such exquisite joy. There is a plan afoot to build a River Park in Hulen Meadows that will forever change the local landscape and make animal sightings practically non-existent. It is mind-boggling that Ketchum wants to significantly change the character of one of the most pristine areas of residential Blaine County.
    Some say the river park will provide an economic benefit to the valley. I understand that Ketchum has spent $600,000 so far planning this project with $2.5 million more to come from the public for its creation—but the money would be better spent supporting the encouragement of new businesses here. Others say the river park will increase local property values. Quite the opposite. To have additional parking and bathroom facilities with the thought that this will enhance property values is incomprehensible. Already after a busy weekend at Sun Peak you can find the detritus of society. Can you imagine what the area will look like when 60-plus trucks and SUVs are sitting next to the pond? The tranquility of our neighborhood allows us to hear the birds. But that will probably be replaced by the sound of boom boxes.
    Ketchum also wants to drill a well at Sun Peak. A feasibility study for the well—commissioned in 2011 by Ketchum—concludes that “Pumping at the well site may impact water levels at the Hulen Meadows and Flowers Mill wells.” Nobody has asked Flowers Mill residents whether we want to see our property values degraded and our water table reduced. I understand this is true for the vast majority of Hulen Meadows residents as well. They are aghast at the intended park. I will be the first one to go before Valdi Pace, the county assessor, and petition for a reduction in the value of my property.
    Hulen Meadows pond was originally constructed as a flood abatement tool. The silt deposited since 1990 certainly needs to be dredged and spillways opened again. But that should be the end of the project. A good idea has run amok. I hope this is not a case of people, invested for several years in the project, being unwilling to re-examine what they have proposed because of pride, rather than common sense. What Ketchum proposes is not in the best interests of those of us who reside outside its limits and have no say in the matter.
    I would hope that we will all work to preserve the beauty and dignity of this portion of the valley—just as should happen with all other land along the Big Wood River.
Alan Blinken
North of Ketchum

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