For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

Rest home for geezers

Ketchum and Sun Valley are in danger of becoming rest homes for geezers.

All the pieces are there.

The fight against affordable housing for people with local jobs eventually will squeeze them out of the valley.

The sentiment in Ketchum against better local-option sales-tax funding for marketing will slowly suffocate winter business.

The selfishness emanating from the "I’ve got mine" contingent will poison the valley’s atmosphere. It would be funny, if it weren’t so serious, to listen to locals complain bitterly about visitors who drive down "their" street or who fish on "their" rivers. So much for being friendly small towns.

Marketing for the area is anemic by any measure. The Sun Valley City Council sees the logic in devoting about 25 percent of local-option sales taxes to reinvestment in the resort economy through marketing.

Ketchum does not, even though the economy is battered every winter by declining skier numbers, unpredictable weather, and formidable competition.

It takes time to build markets. The future resort economy is dependent on marketing today. If the city’s attitude persists, it should get ready for some shocking changes.

Skimp on marketing and expect to see business receipts drop, tax revenues fall and amenities disappear.

Exclude young people from the economy, fail to welcome them to the resort, and be left with graying baby boomers to make cash registers ring.

Desperate bike shops could retrofit mountain bikes with training wheels.

Sun Valley Co. could fit chairlifts with oxygen-tank holders and hooks for walkers.

The $250,000 Ketchum wants to spend on downtown landscaping could create a great backdrop for the new Forest Lawn of the Rockies.

The valley has to reach out to new generations, find ways to peel them away from the television and acquaint them with the outdoors. Local life and business depend on it.


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