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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 August 7 - 13, 2002

News

Ketchum may move on golf course preservation


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum officials took an extremely preliminary step Monday toward protecting the Warm Springs Golf Course from eventual development.

The Warm Springs Golf Course, a 76-acre area that includes tennis courts and the Warm Springs Ranch restaurant and an 18-acre undeveloped parcel, has long been one of the Wood River Valley’s few affordable golf courses, and is a respite from the valley’s sprawling homes and condominiums.

It has been for sale for more than a year by a local family that has owned and operated the golf course for decades. A Seattle-based developer that had contracted for the property walked away from the deal this spring, but another developer may be in line as a speculator, said Angie Saunders, executive director for Citizens for Smart Growth.

Following a lengthy public hearing, in which every person who commented said the city should do everything in its power to protect the 76-acres of green open space, the city council unanimously voted to investigate financing options and to invite the Trust for Public Land, a lands conservation group, to help.

"We know that they are well schooled, and have the know-how to help Ketchum understand their financing options," Saunders said.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land is the only national nonprofit group that works exclusively to protect land for recreation and "spiritual nourishment."

Since it formed, the trust has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres in 45 states—from recreation sites to historic buildings to pocket city parks.

Saunders pointed out, however, that the property’s owners must receive a fair financial reward out of whatever deal is ultimately negotiated.

"It has to be a willing-seller, willing-buyer deal," she said. "We are very sensitive to private property rights."

Saunders and others suggested that the city could apply a suggested 1 percent option tax increase to the golf course’s purchase and operation. A bond could work, too.

Residents stressed that time is important in order for a deal to work. Mayor Ed Simon, however, said he would not consider raising the option tax by 1 percent until he and the city council have measured public opinion on the matter at an Aug. 22 public hearing.

"Time is of the essence, and we must move," said Ketchum Attorney Brian Barsotti. "We must move now. We must let people know the city is about to act."

"It’s important, and once developed, it can not be taken back," said Ketchum resident Paula Caputo.

"Once it’s gone, it’s gone," agreed Sherry Aanestad.

On another preservation issue, city officials and citizens were unable to breach an impasse in regard to finding the city’s old Congregational Church, built in the 1880s, a permanent home.

Save the Church co-chairmen Floyd McCracken and Dick Meyer proposed three sites Monday night, and city officials and citizens flatly rejected each.

The first choice option, McCracken said, was to put the old building at the Forest Service Park, which is one of three intact 1930s Forest Service work center still in existence today. There, opponents said, the building would disrupt an intact slice of history.

The second choice was to put the building at Little Park, a city-owned park across Sixth Street from Ketchum City Hall. There, opponents said, the building would take over valuable open space.

The third choice was to put the historic structure on a corner of the city-owned park and ride lot. There, opponents said, the building would never be used or seen.

"We will accept whatever the city council says, and we will go to work," McCracken said, but the only direction he was given was to keep looking at alternatives.

In the two years since the old church was saved from destruction, the Save the Church committee has raised more than $100,000 to be used to restore the old building.

 

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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.