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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. 

For the week of July 31 - August 6, 2002

Opinion Column

Taking a look at what’s best for the community

Guest opinion by Latham Williams

The debate about the future of a cultural center in our community is now in full swing. Editorials are being written, public hearings are being convened, dinner conversations are being interrupted. With all this debate, perhaps a bit of history and perspective is in order.

Two years ago, the leaders of the City of Sun Valley took an annual look at the assets of our community. We developed a replacement fund for physical assets such as fire trucks, police cars and snow plows. We completed and built a storage building to protect the long-term value of some of those assets. We invested in the continuing education and health of our employees.

At the same time, we took stock of our many non-physical assets. We looked at open space, and hillsides and view corridors, and we took action to protect those assets. We looked at the number of volunteers who work to make our city better in ways small and large. And we looked at the important roles that art and culture play as assets in our community.

We looked at what makes Sun Valley unique, at what makes it different. We looked at the Summer Symphony, the Caritas Chorale, the Writer’s Conference, the Arts and Crafts Festival. We looked at the exhibits that occur throughout the year, and at the many theatre, music and dance productions.

We viewed all of these as assets—and as assets worth protecting. We looked at the future of growth in our community, and when we looked at the physical and financial pressures that growth has and will continue to put on the continued viability of these assets, we felt a responsibility to be a part of protecting them.

The future of art and culture is undeniably linked to the quality of our future as a community. They are part of who we are. They are part of what makes the experience of Sun Valley different and unique. They are as much a part of the Sun Valley experience as a view of Baldy, a walk on the bike path, or a sleigh ride out Trail Creek.

Is the City’s 5-acre parcel on Sun Valley Road the perfect place for an arts and cultural center? No. Could it work? Maybe, if designed with sensitivity to the site and the established view corridor. Are the costs of losing open space too high to justify the benefits? That’s a major question in the debate and one we must settle before moving forward.

The City of Sun Valley has taken the initiative to put the concept of an art and cultural center on the table. We know that some will support it, others will oppose it. Meetings are open, opinions are encouraged. There’s going to be a fight, but it’s a fight worth having. And when the dust settles, the process will give us the facts and opinions to make a decision in the best interest of our community.

Latham Williams is President of the Sun Valley City Council.



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