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For the week of July 24 - 30, 2002


SV arts complex will get ‘Needs Analysis’

Residents ask city to look at other options

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley Mayor David Wilson last week announced that a long-standing proposal to build an arts and cultural-activities center on a five-acre parcel along Sun Valley Road will be the subject of a formal "Needs Analysis" to determine whether the facility is necessary and appropriate.

A new fence line was recently erected to separate a five-acre parcel (background) that the City of Sun Valley acquired from the Sun Valley Co. The site has been proposed as the location of a new arts facility. Express photo by Willy Cook

Addressing a group of 35 residents at a special meeting at City Hall to discuss the proposed arts center, Wilson said he favors the proposal, but will lend support to the study to get further information and community input on whether the project should proceed.

City officials will hold another public meeting to discuss the issue at 4 p.m. today in City Hall.

Standing before an elaborate architectural rendering of the proposed project, Wilson on July 16 said that he thought that leasing the site to the Sun Valley Arts Foundation for an arts facility would be a desirable use of the land.

"The arts make this community," he said.

The city acquired ownership of the five-acre site next to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in a land swap deal with the Sun Valley Co. in December 2000.

The zoning of the site—which is now fenced off from contiguous land known as the Horse Pasture and owned by Sun Valley Co.—allows for conditional uses such as an arts center.

The city has entered into an informal agreement with the SVAF that it can use the site for an arts center if the foundation can raise the money to build it—and show that it is in the best interest of the community.

The current proposal calls for a facility that includes a performance hall, outdoor amphitheater, dance studios, a city park above an underground parking garage, plus space for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and the Arts Alliance. City Administrator Dan Pincetich said that the entire plan would cost an estimated $20 million, but noted that no reliable figure had yet been attached to the design.

Wilson noted that the city has spent roughly $60,000 on planning the project and maintaining the site, and will have spent approximately $100,000 after the needs-study is completed.

Several residents at the meeting told Wilson that they would like to see the city explore other uses for the property.

John Thorson said he wanted city officials to look at developing the parcel as a public park. In talking about the arts-center proposal, he said, "We need a ‘Needs Analysis,’ We need a financial impact study. And we need citizens’ approval."

Goose Garrett, a member of an ad-hoc group called Local Advisory Board, which advocates community input on local matters, said that the city needs to look at the noise, parking, traffic and safety impacts of the project. "I personally would like to see the five acres remain as is," he said. "However, the best interest of the community may be a park."

Karen Reinheimer said she believed the project was being "railroaded through" and that other uses should be considered for the site. "Who is deciding? This isn’t a private fiefdom," she said.

Others called for a town vote on the issue, an idea which Wilson opposed because it could exclude some part-time residents and the people of Ketchum. "I’m against a vote. I don’t think votes do anything," he said. "I’m for (the project). If I campaign for it and (the opponents) lose, is that in the best interest of the community?"

Pincetich added that he believed a referendum on the issue may not be a legal course of action.

Not all at the meeting spoke out against the proposal. "There is a need for arts facilities in this community," said Sam Goppmayer, director of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

Glenn Janss, chairwoman of LAB, said this week that the "Needs Analysis" will gather information from local community leaders, boards, executives and residents, mainly to determine if existing arts facilities meet the area’s need. "It’s actually a great, great benefit to the community to have this done," she said. "It’s senseless to have more facilities if we’re not going to use them."

The "Needs Analysis" should take roughly three months to complete, Wilson said.


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.