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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 April 23 - 29, 2003


Groups moving
toward resolution
on rec facilities

Express Staff Writer

The debate on how best to organize and situate recreation facilities in the Wood River Valley may be nearing the end of a chapter.

At the second Blaine County Recreation District-sponsored recreation facilities summit, a chord may have been struck when the groups involved realized they might not step on each others’ toes as much as they thought they would.

The Hailey Ice Park’s ice sheet proposal and the Recreation District’s "Community Campus" gymnasium and teen center concepts appear to fill the need in the south valley, pointed out Ketchum Councilman Maurice Charlat. The Wood River YMCA’s pool, gymnasium, fitness center, climbing wall and ice sheet appeared to fill the needs in the north valley.

"It looks to me like the ‘superfluidity’ here is 5-B, and you may not like that," Charlat said with a nod to 5-B Recreation center advocates Al Lindley and Mike Hess.

But Hess said his group has begun negotiating with a private landowner rather than the city of Hailey for a potential recreation facilities site, and is willing to respond to needs as they arise.

"Our motto is going to be reactive," he said. "We’re not going to shove ice down anyone’s throat. We’re happy to let people move forward and not get in their way."

At the conclusion of the recreation facilities summit, held Thursday, April 17 in Ketchum, the proposal to build a refrigerated ice sheet in Hailey as early as this fall emerged the clear winner.

"Give me your address, and I’ll send you a check" of his own, Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon told representatives of the Hailey Ice Park. "And I want to make a point: Those who show they can perform will succeed."

The Hailey Ice Park group has not yet begun its fundraising campaign, but several of those who attended the meeting said they would contribute.

"The need that we’ve created in the community is huge," said Hailey Ice Park representative Diane Hunter regarding the group’s work at Roberta McKercher Park last winter. "We don’t care who builds it as long as it’s done sooner rather than later. But right now, we’ve created a home for our community’s children, and we need a house."

The ice park group proposes to build refrigerated ice under a steel-truss roof for $597,000 at one of several Hailey sites. Hunter said the group has break-even financial goals and will attempt to complete fundraising by mid-July and finalize a site this month.

Blaine County Recreation District Executive Director Mary Austin Crofts said her organization already has a building, the old Wood River High School, and most of the money it needs to put together a partnership called Community Campus.

Community Campus would include a 19,000-square-foot gymnasium and locker facility, 2,800-square-foot gymnastics space, 2,500-square-foot Wood River Activity Center and 2,200-square-foot Recreation District offices.

The Community Campus would be shared by the recreation district, the College of Southern Idaho and the Blaine County School District’s Academy programs, beginning in the fall of 2003.

Austin Crofts said the recreation center at the Community Campus would serve an average of 350 youth daily throughout the school year and would be available for the Recreation District’s 300 youth camp participants in the summer.

"The first year preliminary budget shows that revenue will not cover expenses, and the center will post a financial loss," according to an informational flyer on the proposal. "It is anticipated through careful study of additional community program needs, fundraising and other support, the center can post a break-even budget after the first year."

The first year budget is projected at roughly $184,700, $63,000 higher than projected first-year revenues.

The Wood River YMCA’s plans to build a Ketchum-based recreation center have not changed considerably, and include a pool, climbing wall, ice sheet, gymnasium and weight room at a cost of $16 million.

The facility would be built at the Ketchum-owned Park and Ride lot at the corner of Saddle and Warm Springs roads.

Wood River YMCA Campaign Director Mike Wolter said his group has been meeting with Hailey Ice Park and Community Campus advocates.

He said the organizations would not compete with one another but would offer complimentary programs.

"The key word, I think, is collaborating and collaboration, and to maintain open lines of communication, so that we can exist together," Wolter said.


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