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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8065 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

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 May 8 - 14, 2002


Ten years from now

It finally happened.

Monday night Ketchum looked at a proposal to turn its congested streets into parking lots.

Somewhere in the background we thought we heard the legendary Joni Mitchell singing, "They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot."

Sound crazy? Maybe, but the man who crafted the parking idea is sincere about helping the city to find a way to deal with the growing numbers of cars that come to town and park each day.

Ketchum’s not the only one with problems, and it’s easy to see why.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that between 700 and 800 new neighbors are arriving in Blaine County every year.

At this rate, the population will increase by another 50 percent or 9,400 people by the year 2012. That is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,615 households, and probably 7,200 more cars.

The signs of growth are everywhere:

Bellevue officials acknowledged last week that the city probably doesn’t have enough water to go around for all of the building sites it has approved.

A long-time rancher has put forth a proposal that could be the beginning of Picabo’s transformation from a wide spot in the road surrounded by pasture to the county’s newest upscale suburb.

Developers want to tear down the complex that includes the Elkhorn Hotel and replace it with high-end condominiums.

Sun Valley property owners seem intent on erecting a "No Kids Allowed" sign at the city limits. They object to development of a private elementary school in a valley between two toney neighborhoods.

The Blaine County School District can’t find a home for its buses. Neighbors are raising a fuss over the second site proposed in less than a year.

Ketchum’s Knob Hill neighborhood wants to close its street to block the increasing numbers of cars that dodge congestion on Main Street by using the neighborhood street to get to town.

It’s hard to imagine the county with 50 percent more people, but local leaders need to let their imaginations run wild.

If they apply the same old answers to the same old questions, they will get us just what the rest of the country has gotten: ugly, unlivable cities and suburbs where the quality of life is poor.

To avoid the same old outcomes, the valley’s elected officials need to think outside the box. That will require more than reaction; it will require vision and courage.

To build more parking and bigger highways to accommodate more cars—that’s reaction. To reduce the number of cars with mass transit and walkable cities—that’s vision.

To wait for the inevitable and watch options dwindle—that’s reaction. To imagine wonderful communities and create them—that’s vision.

To look stingy neighbors in the eye and defend wise spending on a better future—that’s courage.

Ten years from now, everyone will know whether we paved Paradise and put up a parking lot. Ten years from now, it will be clear what today’s leaders were made of.

We’re hoping for the best.


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.