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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.
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For the week of February 19 - 25, 2003


Ketchum backs recreation center plan

Resolution places financial burden on center leaders

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council unanimously endorsed a document last week indicating the city’s interest in providing property and money for construction of a Ketchum-based community recreation center.

Specifically, the city council resolution says the city will lease the park and ride lot at the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle Roads to the Wood River Community YMCA—formerly the Janss Center—for $1 per year. Additionally, the city agreed that, with voter approval, it will match $3 million if the YMCA raises pledges totaling $3 million within one year.

The resolution, which the council endorsed at a Feb. 13 evening meeting, asks the YMCA to return to the city with master plans in six months.

"What we’re telling the county and Hailey is, we’re willing to step to the plate," said Councilman Baird Gourlay. "With this resolution, the burden is on the (Wood River Community YMCA) to raise $3 million. There’s not a lot of risk to the city."

The $3 million match will serve as a short-term milestone, said Wood River Community YMCA Board Chair Cynthia Murphy. Fundraising goals, which include construction and initial operational costs, still total $15 million.

Jim Everett, executive director of the Boise Family YMCA, assured city leaders that the YMCA would be responsible for potential debts and for operational losses the facility might incur.

"We would never recommend building a facility that is not operationally feasible," he said.

Everett said the facility is proposed to be built in two phases, the first consisting of a swimming pool, gymnasium, lockers, a climbing wall and administrative facilities. The second would include an ice skating and hockey rink. YMCA supporters urged city council members to do what they can to help bring a facility to the Wood River Valley and to get past arguments focusing on a north-south valley split.

"The Y coming to this valley is the best news I’ve heard in a long time," said Alex Sundali, president of the 5B Swim Team. "We live in one community. I live in Blaine County. One of the hurdles we seem to not be able to get past is that we are one community. We have to get past that."

Blaine County Recreation District board member Keith Perry pointed out that the recreation district is scheduled to host a meeting March 6 that will focus on the best distribution of facilities throughout the Wood River Valley.

"We just think it’s important for the community to sit down and design facilities that work together," he said.

Last week, Rec District Executive Director Mary Austin Crofts told the mayors of Blaine County’s cities she has asked representatives from the Hailey-based 5B Sports Center and the Ketchum-based Wood River Community YMCA to attend a community discussion of their plans Thursday, March 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Blaine County Senior Center in Hailey.

"We’re really promoting the idea of collaborating," she said.

Austin Crofts told the mayors the Rec District is seeking a "unified recreation plan" that most residents of the Wood River Valley will support.

"The idea is not to duplicate, and not to compete," she said.

Wood River YMCA board member Tom Praggastis said the YMCA will support the recreation district in its efforts.

"We do need to integrate facilities, but we also feel very strongly about this project," he said.

Ketchum City Councilman Maurice Charlat said it is time to put the plans on a fast track.

"We’ve spent a lot of time talking about this, and now is the time to do something," he said.

Praggastis said the Wood River Community YMCA board is excited about moving forward with the city under the new arrangement.

"We’re glad to have you on board, and we’re glad to have your financial commitment if that’s the direction you want to go," he said.

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