For the week of April 28, 1999  thru May 4, 1999  

Hailey temporary skatepark plan rolls backward

Express Staff Writer

Instead of ramp-jumping, Hailey skateboarders will be spending at least half the summer hoop-jumping in City Hall.

In a decision made "begrudgingly," the Hailey City Council delivered a setback to the Hailey Skatepark Committee’s efforts to install a temporary skatepark on a parking lot in downtown Hailey.

The committee was given the go-ahead by the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission March 16, but thirteen residents living adjacent to the lot at 100 North River Street appealed that decision.

The skatepark committee, a non-profit organization formed to provide the community with a safe and legal place to skate and ride in Hailey, has an ultimate goal of building a permanent, concrete, 15,000-square-foot skatepark in Roberta McKercher Park.

While council members expressed unanimous support for the temporary skatepark Monday night, they said they felt compelled to send the proposal back to the P&Z for review of procedural issues.

The attorney representing the thirteen residents, Gary Slette, brought several concerns to the council, such as noise, disturbances to existing and future neighboring uses, and lack of compliance with the Hailey Comprehensive Plan.

"Just because an idea is popular with the masses doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate land use," Slette said. "This is a great idea, but it’s not located in the greatest of places."

Ultimately, though, it was an error made by the city of Hailey’s planning department that prompted the council’s decision to remand.

The property, according to Slette, was not posted with a notice two weeks prior to the P&Z commission’s hearing, as is required by Idaho Code.

"That kind of spells the outcome of tonight’s hearing," Slette said prophetically in his introduction.

Hailey city attorney Susan Baker agreed.

"I would recommend remanding to the P&Z," Baker told the council.

It appears that the city of Hailey’s noticing requirements may conflict with Idaho Code, an inconsistency that city staff will investigate, Mayor Brad Siemer said.

Skatepark supporters, who once again filled council chambers, were visibly disappointed by the setback.

After hearing the council’s decision, Wood River High School student Ezzie Strobel-Haft, who has made presentations to the council on behalf of the skatepark committee, slumped in his chair.

"We’ve jumped through so many hoops," Strobel-Haft said. "I’m frustrated."

Jim Kuehn, a Hailey real estate agent and occasional spokesman for the skatepark committee, wore an uneasy smile after the decision.

"We did what we were asked to do," Kuehn said. "It’s not our job to notice. It’s a disappointment that it fell through the cracks."

Once remanded to the P&Z, the application process begins anew.

However, Siemer said the city is trying to avoid returning the neighbors and skatepark committee to the hearing process.

"As we speak, we’re looking at ways that we can resolve this issue with both parties outside of the fracas," Siemer said in an interview Tuesday.


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