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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002

  News

Cityís park and ride lot key question for town hall meet


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Itís been more than 10 years since the city of Ketchum bought just under six acres of land at the corner of Saddle and Warm Springs roads, and itís time, Mayor Ed Simon said, to decide what to do with it.

The park and ride lot at the corner of Saddle and Warm Springs road has become Ketchumís attic. Mayor Ed Simon, who will hold a town hall meeting Feb. 20 at the American Legion Hall, is seeking guidance on better uses for the six-acre property. Express photo by Willy Cook

At a town hall meeting Feb. 20 at the American Legion Hall in Ketchum, Simon said he will ask participants, among other things, to give the city guidance on what to do with the property. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

Unofficially called the park and ride lot, the property has become a city dumping ground, as well as a place for skiers to park before catching a bus to the Warm Springs base of the Bald Mountain ski area. A decrepit historic church and condemned bridge presently adorn the gravel-and-dirt covered property.

The city acquired the lot March 19, 1991, through a judgment rendered by 5th District Judge James May on a condemnation proceeding. Citizens then bonded for the lot and qualified its uses for parking, recreation or cultural facilities.

However, the voter-approved uses for the property only lasted as long as the bond, which was paid in 1998, Ketchum City Administrator Jim Jaquet said.

"Once the bonds have been repaid, there is no legal obligation that it be used for parking, recreation or cultural facilities," he said.

Nonetheless, several non-profit groups have focused on recreation as an ultimate use for the property.

In 1995, the Ketchum City Council reached an agreement with the Wood River Activity Center, which would have leased the property and built recreation facilities.

And just last year, the council adopted a resolution stating it would work with the Bill Janss Community Center non-profit organization, if possible, to build a $14 million community recreation center.

Last fall, community center representatives and financial consultants presented the city with elaborate conceptual designs of a potential facility. They also proposed a business plan that would initiate a public-private relationship in which the city would consider assuming ownership of the facility when construction is completed.

The cityís resolution proposes to move forward on the cooperative project so long as financial concerns are settled. But other uses have been discussed at recent public meetings, and a new administration has taken the reins at Ketchum City Hall.

The site is ideal for affordable housing, former Ketchum Councilman Tom Held said. The park and ride lot could accommodate between 50 and 60 units, Held said, and 85 percent to 90 percent of the citizens of Ketchum would support it.

Held has been an outspoken critic of the cityís plans to build affordable housing on Main Street. The land the city owns is a luxury afforded from the foresight of prior city councils and should not be squandered, he said.

"We have to be careful how weíre developing it, and make sure weíre doing it right," he said.

And the recreation groups, including the Bill Janss Community Center, have had enough time to work on their proposals for the park and ride lot, he said.

"Itís time to start looking at other alternatives."

 


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.