For the week of September 30 thru October 6, 1998  

Unity of community is theme behind the State of the City addresses

Express Staff Writer

Wood River Valley communities will need to cooperate more if they are to achieve their visions for the future, leaders of the valley’s six political entities said at the State of the Cities Breakfast Friday.

Speaking at the Sun Valley Lodge dining room, most appeared to agree that such cooperation is underway.

During the two-hour presentation, the mayors of five cities and a county commissioner addressed their goals on issues such as growth and land use, as well as praising the past year’s accomplishments.

Bellevue Mayor Monte Brothwell said the city is working to maintain Bellevue’s historical landmarks and historical theme along Main Street.

He said that over the past year, the historical society has began to restore the century-old territorial jail, and is hoping to obtain the land on Main Street where the old city hall houses the Bellevue Museum.

Addressing future growth, Brothwell said the city’s goals were to work the historical theme of the town into all zoning districts, including light industrial on Main Street, and to provide for mixed housing within future annexations.

Brothwell said it is important to focus on areas that are often overlooked, such as schools and emergency services, when considering the future of Bellevue.

"We are all inter-related," he said, citing neighboring Hailey’s building moratorium which spurred development in Bellevue as an example.

Brothwell also cited the need to master plan the area between Bellevue and Hailey, where the two cities’ zones of impact overlap. Joint city council and planning and zoning meetings are slated to address this issue, Brothwell said.

Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer also focused on growth, and the challenges it has presented to the city.

"It was my sincere hope that a mayor will not have to get up here and talk about the wastewater treatment plant," he said in opening.

Siemer then reported that construction of the new treatment plant, slated for the current Woodside plant site, will begin this fall.

He said a $5-million contract has been awarded to Turnkey Inc. of Ontario, Ore., for construction of the plant, contingent upon state Department of Environmental Quality approval.

Siemer also addressed the future of the Friedman Memorial Airport and the proposed annexation of 150 acres near the airport by Hailey to control residential development there. The area at issue is currently county land situated between Hailey and Bellevue.

He commended Friedman’s service to the valley in providing convenient travel, emergency services and an economic base for the city. However, he also said it is important to control noise and promote safety because of the airport’s proximity to subdivisions, an issue made more urgent after a private plan crashed in the Woodside subdivision over the summer.

"That is not good for the airport, Hailey or Bellevue," he said.

Siemer is also working with the Hailey Chamber of Commerce to encourage more business development in the town.

"We do again have empty buildings on Main Street," he said.

However, Siemer added that development should not be allowed to override other values.

"As we move forward, the challenge to Hailey and the valley is to preserve what we came here for—community," he said.

Carey Mayor Rick Baird followed this theme of community. Saying that while traveling north through Blaine County to attend the breakfast he did not find any line dividing the north county from the south county.

It’s one community, he said.

Baird then chronicled Carey’s evolution into an incorporated city after years of rule by county government.

"Two years ago we found out that we were incorporated in 1919, but there was no process of governing or leadership," he said of the southern Blaine city. "We had no budget, no comprehensive plan, no process, and none of the tools that are required to lead the city."

The city has since changed that, and Baird said in the past year Carey has developed a $100,000 annual budget, has five new subdivisions and three new businesses.

"We face the same challenges, but they are smaller in stature," he said. "My largest goal is to see participation from the people in the process."

Mayors Tom Praggastis of Sun Valley and Guy Coles of Ketchum shifted the focus to the past accomplishments of each city.

Praggastis talked about the city’s tie to Sun Valley Company and its resort, and about the improved government.

"Sun Valley was in a deplorable state," he said. "We were the laughing stock of the county, and now I believe we are the most efficient, well-oiled governmental machine in the valley."

As for future goals, Praggastis said his city is working to be a world-class city, just as Sun Valley resort is a world-class resort.

He said the proposal to raise the option tax is a means of achieving that goal.

"We currently don’t raise enough to maintain the city, let alone a reserve."

Mayor Guy Coles proudly outlined Ketchum’s accomplishments over the year, including the expansion of the skateboard park, the $2.5-million improvement to the city’s municipal water system that is in the works, and "the best Wagon Days Parade ever completed."

Looking to the future, Coles also said the draft Ketchum Comprehensive Plan has been completed and set for a public hearing Oct. 1. Coles described the plan as promoting a pedestrian-friendly city, with more trees, benches and pedestrian corridors.

He also touted the approval of Ketchum’s first affordable housing development, the Fields at Warm Springs, with 14 deed-restricted units.

"This is a small but important step toward the goal of having Ketchum’s working class live in Ketchum," he said.

The final address by Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig described the past year as a good one for the county.

Turning to the future, Harlig said, he hopes to see the new St. Luke’s hospital open by December of 2000, and Highway 75 to boast five lanes by the year 2001.

Harlig reported that the rewrite of the Blaine County subdivision ordinance is still in the process with the goals of putting the impact of growth onto developers and preserving agriculture.

"I’m very gratified to hear today that there is a need for the cities and the county to work together," he said in closing. "What we need to ask is ‘What do we want to be when we grow up?"


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