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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 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. 

For the week of November 20 - 26, 2002

Opinion Columns

Don’t miss out on 
medical campus

Guest opinion by Dewayne Briscoe

Dewayne Briscoe, who lives in Sun Valley, calls himself "a smart citizen for sensible solutions."

I do not own or have any interest in property in McHanville or any other commercial property in Blaine County.

I am writing this letter because I have observed that the county may be about to lose a unique opportunity to help facilitate a state-of-the-art medical campus that other mountain town areas would certainly desire, but cannot afford.

I have a son on a Colorado town ski team and each year I travel to Aspen, Steamboat, Vail, Telluride, Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and other areas. No town has the newest hospital and soon to be completed medical office building like St. Luke's here.

A common complaint in each area, as nearly all races have injuries, is the need to travel long distances to Denver or Grand Junction for complete medical care. Like as here, complicated medical cases have to be flown to Boise.

The hospital and medical office building are just a start for a comprehensive quality care campus.

Remember the vocal minority opposition to the hospital and office building? It would be massive, out of, place, block views, and always too big. As I drive by the area today, the office building is barely visible because of the large, higher land bench behind. Baldy is totally visible and unblocked from the highway. The hysteria was unfounded. Multi-story buildings should be allowed. It is the right area for a complete medical campus.

Ketchum's claim to area of influence should be tempered for the greater concern of all of Blaine County.

Ketchum's claims are self-serving and disingenuous. Ketchum wants someone else to solve its affordable housing problem and traffic and parking problems. Ketchum was partly responsible for the new multi-million dollar, narrow, three-lane bridge and narrow highway by the hospital because they did not want "four lanes of traffic coming into Ketchum," yet Ketchum is afraid of losing doctors and patients to the hospital complex. Would this not lessen traffic and parking space in Ketchum? Vacant building owners still pay property tax. Ketchum cannot have it both ways.

Employee housing should be included for hospital and medical office or medically related personnel.

A private small pharmacy should be allowed so Ketchum patients would not have to drive into Ketchum’s congested Chateau Drug/Atkinsons' area. Less Ketchum traffic.

Radiology, physical therapy, laboratory and other medical service patients would not have to drive back and forth from Ketchum doctors to the hospital and back again. How many traffic trips saved? Hundreds, daily! Sixty percent of the population is south of the hospital.

Non-employee affordable housing is not appropriate for this area, only employee housing. Affordable housing would create more traffic into Ketchum. Medical use or medically related use should be allowed in multi-story buildings to be economically feasible. Coffee shops or small restaurants should be allowed to service the complex, not all retail uses. No real estate offices or art galleries. This would not create sprawl as unsightly sprawl is already there. It would enhance the appearance, enhance an "entrance to Ketchum" and create a medical campus with resulting increased specialists, increased services, and less need for life flights to Boise.

Ketchum could retain its small town appearance and desire and have less need for large buildings.

A rezone of this area would not set a legal precedent for further commercial growth between the hospital and Hailey as commercial buildings are already there.

The future is yours. Do not listen to the vocal minority or special interests. Act in the best interest of all of Blaine County and your children. As usual, the "smart citizens" are against this, but offer no logical or valid alternatives.

By simple zoning, Blaine County can get a quality, comprehensive medical complex free. Areas like Aspen had to pass property tax increases (bonds) to build a smaller, much inferior hospital. We have ours free.

The Mountain Express should listen to the transportation experts, not the emotional and nostalgic tiny minority or we will have more examples of bad decisions like the new three lane bridge and confusing changing lane highway.

Is the solution too simple to understand? Compromise is necessary by all.


Editor’s note: The new highway bridge near Greenhorn was engineered and built to a four-lane standard to accommodate any future highway expansion. However, it is striped to accommodate the present three-lane configuration.

Public comment on the design and location of the St. Luke’s medical office building in 2000 and 2001 precipitated revisions. Blaine County has no height limits or criteria for design.

Following negotiations with the county, the building’s size was reduced from the original proposal of 40,000 square feet to 31,179. The original proposed height of 46 feet exceeded Ketchum’s 35-foot height limitation. The hospital reduced the height to 32.5 feet in the final design.



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