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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 November 20 - 26, 2002


Ketchum revamping master plan

City leaders look for blueprint to future

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum leaders are getting back in the saddle to work on planning for the city’s expansion needs and how those needs can be accommodated on city-owned property.

At a special meeting Nov. 13, the Ketchum City Council discussed a wide range of ideas pertaining to city properties and expansion needs. The discussion—more like a brain storming session—occurred during a public hearing that was supposed to focus on the city-owned town center site, at the corner of Fourth and Main Streets.

Last year, public debate raged over whether the city should pursue a 20-room affordable housing and commercial project at the town center site. Funding for the project ultimately fell through, but some citizens are still smarting from the rhetorical maelstrom that surrounded the project.

"We’ve been down that road, and we don’t need to go down it again," Mayor Ed Simon said.

Last week’s discussion ranged from pursuing ownership of West Ketchum land owned by Idaho potato king J.R. Simplot to relocating the city’s historic Congregational Church, which also was Louie’s restaurant, to the town center site.

But by the meeting’s conclusion, the city council decided to put off making an immediate decision and asked the city’s planning department to investigate a year-old report, penned by local architect Michael Doty, on city expansion needs and options. The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission will look into the issue at its Dec. 9 meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

Despite the council’s decision to continue investigations, the Nov. 13 meeting attracted local residents representing diverse community interests, including park and open space advocates, affordable housing champions and historic preservation gurus.

"We have limited land. We have a multitude of needs," observed Simon.

Master planning the city’s properties was the most popular concept discussed, and city leaders decided the so-called "Doty Report" was the best place to start.

"We’ve got some traction already if we just use it," Councilman Maurice Charlat said.

But Councilman Baird Gourlay stressed the need for fast action.

"We need to do something today. Then plan five years and 20 years down the road," he said. "Let’s face it. We’ve got four departments busting at the seams. We need some action.

Former Ketchum Mayor Jerry Seiffert also cautioned the council against studying the issue to death.

"You can’t get into a situation where you need to know everything before you can do anything. You’ll never get anything done," he said.

In his December 2001 report, Doty worked with city department heads to determine expansion needs for the city’s police, fire, planning and administrative branches. He then proposed four conceptual solutions to the office and facilities needs.

The four solutions varied, but used the same general pieces of city-owned property: a parking lot at the corner of Sixth Street and Leadville Avenue, a paved lot now used as a pull-out for the fire department and the existing city hall facilities. When Doty authored the report, the town center site was still on track for the affordable housing project that never became.

However, the city does not own an abundance of developable properties. A project undertaken by Ketchum’s acting Planning Administrator Harold Moniz and former Housing Administrator Gates Kellett, revealed that only nine city-owned properties can be developed or redeveloped: Ketchum City Hall, the fire department pull-out lot, town center, two downtown parking lots, the street department site, two employee housing units, the park and ride lot and a gravel and equipment storage lot in the city’s industrial area.



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