For the week of June 17 thru June 23, 1998  

S.O.S! Bond suggested to buy open space

Express Staff Writer

Send help, the green kind. Open space is at stake. SOS!

In response to worries about saving the agricultural terrain in Blaine County, Commissioner Mary Ann Mix suggested asking locals to chip with a bond in if they care to help.

Actually, the Save Open Space (S.O.S.) bond would work more as a blanket to cover rural and wilderness preservation costs, rather than just ag land.

"If everyone really wants this, they’ve got to step up to the plate and put their money where their mouth is," Mix said at a planning workshop last week.

Nothing is solidly planned yet for the S.O.S. bond. Planning and Zoning Commissioner Sandy Sullivan responded to Mix’s idea by saying, "A bond issue requires a lot of education."

Mix took care of the first step, by volunteering Wood River Land Trust director Scott Boettger’s services.

Boettger, a public relations specialist originally from Pennsylvania, is no rookie on the public bond scene.

He helped sell a $50 million bond in his home state’s Chester County and now works to protect open space with the land trust.

The $50 million bond succeeded because it was comprehensive, Boettger said.

Blaine County’s smaller bond would follow suit with special attention paid to ag land preservation, he predicted.

"We would need help from everyone," Boettger said, naming recreation, ranching and development groups.

"The entire community would have to buy in," Mix explained.

The duo will start looking into the amount of money needed and out-of-county sources for the money such as the federal Farmland Protection Act.

The bond would go to a vote, which Mix anticipated would be preceded by a public referendum, possibly this fall.

"That’s the easiest way for the public to speak," she said.


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