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For the week of January 10 through January 16, 2001

Mayor discusses Ketchum’s coming year

Express Staff Writer

After heart and kidney problems put him out of action for the month of December, Ketchum Mayor Guy Coles said he is looking forward to the coming year, the final year of his current four-year term as mayor.

But he refused to say whether he’ll choose to run for election again in November.

"I’m no spring chicken," he acknowledged while dodging other questions about his plans for the coming fall. "But my doctor and family say my health is improving rapidly. I’ve enjoyed my tenure in office, working with a fine staff at city hall."

When discussing his accomplishments, he was consistently careful to say "we" in recognition of the team effort necessary to get things done at city hall.

"I use the phrase ‘we,’ because it takes the whole group to accomplish something. We get a lot of input from each [council] member that a lot of times will affect an outcome."

He said quality-of-life issues are among the things he’s most proud of accomplishing as mayor, and quality-of-life issues are what he plans to focus on in the last year of his current term.

Coles’ goals for the coming year include: completing design and going to bid on the city’s new wastewater treatment buildings, finishing construction of the restrooms at the Forest Service Park, beginning construction on the new Broadway Bridge, designing and going to bid on the Warm Springs bike path from Saddle Road to East Canyon Run, and completing the city’s pending comprehensive plan.

"If we can do all that, I’ll be very happy, and I can’t see why we can’t," he said.

Coles has served the city for the past eight years—two as a city councilman and six as mayor.

Among the things he’s most proud of in his eight years at city hall, he said, are obtaining a senior discount for garbage collection rates, adopting regulations that further limit the size of downtown area commercial buildings, organizing the skate park at the corner of Saddle and Warm Springs roads and organizing Atkinson Park activities.

Over the past three years, the total amount of commercial development in the city’s downtown has increased from approximately 900,000 square feet to 1,200,000 square feet, Coles said.

In July 1998, a survey of Ketchum citizens cited the city’s small-town atmosphere as its greatest asset. The recent development spike threatened that atmosphere, Coles said.

He said the city’s new design review ordinance, which will further limit the size and height of new commercial buildings "will make all the difference in the world."

He also discussed the future of Blaine County, which he has called home for several decades.

"I believe the main asset of Blaine County is the rural character. The threat to Blaine County is the pressure to change the Blaine County Comprehensive plan and its zoning ordinances to permit more extensive development, which will degrade the county’s rural character."

He added, however, that there may be instances when development of rural areas in the county are appropriate, "such as a provision for affordable or community housing," but such efforts must be balanced with preservation of the county’s rural character.

And though the means by which Ketchum and Blaine County work toward affordable housing are sometimes disputed at Ketchum City Hall, Coles said he is in favor of making all of the Wood River Valley’s communities more affordable places to live.

He said he is excited about the city- and county-funded housing director position, to be filled this month by Gates Kellett, from Atlanta.

"I look forward to her performing her new duties as Blaine County housing director. She has excellent skills in financing affordable housing."



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