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For the week of December 19 - 25, 2001


Ketchum outgrowing itself

Study says facilities need to expand

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum’s municipal facilities must more than double in size in the next five years to accommodate projected growth, according to a study made public Monday night.

"We’ve got a five-year fuse here, where things really need to expand by that time," architect Michael Doty, who coordinated the study, told the Ketchum City Council.

In interviews with city department heads over the past month, Doty determined the maximum expansion needs for city facilities, based on potential new employees and equipment. Based on those numbers, he brainstormed potential solutions for the space conundrums.

Ketchum officials called Doty’s numbers a worst-case scenario but a good place to start.

"By giving us the worst-case scenario, we can back up from that," Mayor David Hutchinson said. "This is great. It’s a kickoff."

He and Counclman Randy Hall pointed out that employee numbers usually don’t grow at the rates cited in the study.

"Most of (what is needed) is to bring things up to a standard that is reasonable," Hutchinson said, referencing the city’s crowded police station and city offices.

The idea of studying the city’s space needs came in the wake of August budget considerations, during which the council decided to hire two new city employees but wasn’t sure where their offices might fit at city hall.

Councilman Maurice Charlat said finding space for the two new employees should be a top priority for the time being.

Doty said solutions to the city’s overall space needs would likely require that the police station, fire station and city offices be broken apart and housed at separate sites in Ketchum. They all now share a roof at city hall on East Avenue.

The department most in need of expansion, Doty said, is the city’s police department, which has immediate space needs of more than 6,000 square feet. The current police station at city hall is 4,280 square feet.

In five years, however, Doty determined the city’s fire station would also need an additional 7,213 square feet on top of the 4,280 it has now.

The city’s administrative offices would need to expand by 4,757 square feet in five years, Doty said. They are now 5,785 square feet.

But solutions are not as easy as simply building new facilities, Doty said.

Police and fire protection must be maintained, and the orientation of the fire station’s bay doors to another usable city lot require that the fire station be moved first, despite the police department’s immediate need.

A city-owned lot across the alley from city hall is vacant, but is used as an exit street for the city’s fire engines, as well as fire department emergency vehicle parking.

Doty presented four alternatives, which he said were meant to get officials’ mental gears grinding more than as real, workable solutions. One alternative would move the fire station to the city-owned lot at the corner of Sixth Street and Leadville Avenue, move the police station across the alley from city hall and retain the city offices where they are now.

"They are ideas, and you can mix and match these things different ways," Doty said.

Officials made sure to point out that the study and options are extremely preliminary.

"There are probably 50 different cuts after this one until we get even close," Hutchinson said.

Hall said he doubted the city could get projects of this magnitude completed in five years.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.