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For the week of July 12 through July 18, 2000

Louie’s lament

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum’s old Congregational Church—formerly Louie’s Restaurant—is going to have to wait a little longer to find a new home.

The issue of relocating the historic 1880s structure was put off last Monday, just hours before the Ketchum City Council was scheduled to consider it, because the entire city council was unable to attend, Ketchum Mayor Guy Coles said in a Monday interview.

Councilman David Hutchinson was absent from the meeting, and the issue was rescheduled for next Monday at 6 p.m.

The old church has been sitting on the Ketchum-owned Park & Ride lot at the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads since it was uprooted from the city’s center last fall. Members of the Ketchum historical society have been searching for a suitable location for the structure since then.

The past president of the Ketchum/Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum (historical society), Floyd McCracken, said in an interview that the preferred location to put the old church is at the southern end of East Avenue on city-owned land.

That’s a touchy proposal for Coles, however, who has made clear that he’s not in favor of saving the mining-era relic at all. Additionally, Coles said he wants the entire council present when the city deals with the issue again.

"When it involves [giving up] that much of the public right-of-way, I felt the whole council should be involved," Coles said of his last-minute decision to remove the issue from the city council’s meeting agenda.

McCracken said that he was frustrated by the 11th hour decision to remove the issue from the agenda, but added that he was glad to have a little more time to work out wrinkles in his proposal.

"I’m kind of anxious to make this presentation, because I think they’ll be interested in saving it," he said.

McCracken has offered an alternative to the East Avenue proposal, which pinpoints the city’s Forest Service Park as the proposed building site.

The Committee for the Ketchum Forest Service Park—an oversight committee for the park—is adamantly against relocation to that site, group member Dick Meyer said in an interview.

Meyer and McCracken have taken the lead on finding a relocation site for the church, but they differ on the suitability of the park.

The park would be too crowded with the church there, Meyer said.

Preservationists paid $12,000, according to McCracken, to have the church moved and temporarily stored last November just days before it was to be destroyed. He said private fund-raising efforts have yielded about $18,000 more to move and restore the building.

Also, the Building And Contractors’ Association of the Wood River Valley has offered to donate some materials and labor to the project.

Nevertheless, McCracken said, another $40,000 to $50,000 needs to be raised, and McCracken is convinced the East Avenue location is the best suited.

"We started out with East Avenue, and we came back to East Avenue. It’s our number one option," he said.


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