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For the week of May 23 through May 29, 2001

Hailey asked to consider bus barn alternative

Express Staff Writer

Critics of the Blaine County School Districtís plans to build a bus maintenance facility in Croy Creek Canyon are calling for several alternatives, most of which schools superintendent Jim Lewis says are too flawed to work. One idea that may be considered further, however, is to have the city of Hailey and the district pool money to buy an alternate piece of land away from homes.

Neighbors to the project say they are worried the aesthetics of the proposed 6,000-square-foot light-industrial structure would clash with surrounding hiking areas, and that it would increase traffic, noise and light pollution.

Plans currently underway have the district purchasing land adjacent to the city of Haileyís Lionís Park. If the sale goes through, city engineer Tom Hellen said, a land-sharing agreement would allow Hailey planners to build a street department shop without the cityís purchasing any additional property.

Lewis and other district officials held a public meeting to answer questions on the bus barn plans at the Wood River High Schoolís auditorium Thursday and have called for another meeting on May 30 at 7:00 p.m.

Lewis told about 30 concerned neighbors Thursday that he couldnít comment on suggestions that Hailey contribute money to purchasing alternate property because no Hailey officials were present. Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer was out of town, he said, but would answer questions May 30.

However, Lewis told the sometimes abusive group, "I hear you, I really do."

Other alternatives members of the group suggested included somehow finding more money to purchase land elsewhere, even though it would likely be more expensive than the 25-acre, $262,000 parcel the district has formally agreed to purchase. Lewis said a suitable parcel elsewhere in the county would cost around $1 million.

"It seems like if you go looking for money, you can find it," Croy Canyon resident Brian Emerick said, apparently referring to the $40 million school levy county voters approved last year. "It looks like you might have to go find some more money."

Another unidentified man suggested the district move Wood River High Schoolís sports fields to the Croy property and build the bus barn at the high school.

Another man suggested, "Why not tell the kids they canít drive," and build the bus barn on the high school parking lot?

"I donít know if the parents would go for that," Lewis said. "I can do that for you, if youíll buy me a ticket out of town."


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