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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 24 - 30, 2002

News

Janss Center, Ketchum forge new partnership

Hearing scheduled Jan. 15


"Without that (a commitment of land), you donít need to talk about recreation facilities with the Janss Center, because there wonít be any."

ó TOM PRAGGASTIS, Bill Janss Activity Center Board member


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

Following several uncertain months, the city of Ketchum appears ready to recommit a large city property for the eventual construction--in cooperation with the Bill Janss Activity Center--of a community recreation facility.

In turn, the Janss Center also appears ready to scale back its proposed $14 million community center if need be. Initial architectural and financial plans indicated a partnership whereby the Janss Center would privately raise $8 million, and the city would float a $7 million bond. But the city commitment for a project that might not make money had city leaders nervous.

"This is a new and refreshing approach the Janss Center is coming to us with," said Councilman Baird Gourlay.

Following a brief discussion at a noon Ketchum City Council meeting Dec. 19, council members said they would vote for a city resolution that includes a commitment of time and of the city-owned park and ride lot for the Janss Center. Additionally, Janss Center Board members invited council members to participate as members of their board of directors.

"We canít plan without the communication part of this thing," said Tom Praggastis, a Janss Center Board member.

The resolution is scheduled to be solidified at a Jan. 15 city council meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at Ketchum City Hall. Councilwoman Chris Potters and Councilman Randy Hall were nominated by the council to represent the city on the Janss Center Board of Directors.

If it goes through, the cityís resolution will be the second of its type. A prior resolution, adopted in August 2001, stated the city would negotiate with the Janss Center to "establish the amount, mechanism and other terms and conditions acceptable to the city for funding the project."

If the city council adopts a similar resolution, that will be the current councilís first official vote of support for the Janss Center.

The councilís discussion of a resolution followed a presentation by Praggastis, in which the board member told city officials the Janss Center would never be realized without a commitment of property.

"It will be different a year from now, but we only get to those discussions if we have land," Praggastis said. "Without that, you donít need to talk about recreation facilities with the Janss Center, because there wonít be any.

"Weíre not looking for the city to be financially liable for this thing," he added.

Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon added to the discussion that he had been accused of being unfair and pre-judging the Janss Center.

"I donít think thatís accurate," he said.

Simon said he had raised questions about the Janss Centerís proposed debt service, projected operational expenses and the city commitment for land that had not been answered to his satisfaction.

However, Janss Center officials said they are willing to work to alleviate such concerns. Without the commitment of land, fundraising efforts, in particular, would be difficult, Praggastis said.

 

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