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For the week of Dec. 15, 1999 through Dec. 21, 1999

Fate of Rec Bond connected to growth

Express Staff Writer

Concerns about growth—a central issue connected to most every aspect of life in the Wood River Valley—played a part in defeat of the Community Recreation Bond and will influence plans to pursue the measure again in the future.

"A lot of people said the bond proposal was too much and too big and that they were concerned about growth and change," said Blaine County Recreation director Mary Austin Crofts.

Crofts made her observation during a meeting last Wednesday called by the Blaine County Recreation District to review Nov. 2 election results and consider future recreation planning.

In the election, the bond proposal fell a couple hundred votes short of the two-thirds majority required for passage. Had it been approved, the $11.85 million bond would have funded a recreation center with a focus on youth in Hailey, a pool in Ketchum, mid-valley sports fields at Ohio Gulch and park improvements in the south part of the county.

Community Recreation Bond Committee members Chris Potters and Jed Gray agreed with Crofts’ assessment.

Gray said everyone seemed to support the youth center in Hailey and people were generally in favor of the sports fields, but concerned about the Ketchum pool issue. He said people wanted a more traditional pool rather than a tourist attraction.

"The comment was," Gray said, ‘This isn’t Disneyland.’"

Recreation district president Keith Perry said the people he talked to felt the recreation district was trying to do too much.

The rec district’s original plan was to ask voters to fund the recreation center in Hailey. However, in an attempt to make the measure a county-wide issue and more economically feasible overall, the district opted to include the other projects in the proposal.

Some believe the decision to add the Ketchum pool and the mid-valley sports fields on the bond issue backfired, however, and may have led to the perception that the overall proposal was too extensive.

Hailey resident Tom Hanson commented that in adding the other facilities to the proposal, "the recreation district lost focus on the primary emphasis of the whole project, to provide a recreation center for youth."

Blaine County School superintendent Jim Lewis said at Wednesday’s meeting the education district will put a bond proposal before the school board in early spring for an election probably to be held next fall.

Lewis said collaboration between the two public entities—the school and rec districts—in deciding how to best spend taxpayers dollars is in the best interest of the entire community.


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