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For the week of April 30 - May 6, 2003


Sun Valley told to
use 5-acre parcel

Survey issued to determine future of site

Express Staff Writer

Voters registered in the city of Sun Valley are indicating they want the city to make limited use of its prized five-acre open-space parcel next to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church on Sun Valley Road.

In a survey sent out earlier this month to registered Sun Valley voters, respondents by a margin of approximately 2-to-1 have indicated they are in favor of the city allowing "temporary uses" on a portion of the five-acre site. Temporary uses would essentially include short-term events that might require the use of a tent.

The survey—which included four primary questions—has also indicated that the majority of respondents prefer the site be left as open space, except for the display of artistic sculptures.

Mayor David Wilson on Friday said the survey will provide the city with a guide to help city officials plan how the site is used in future years.

"We got a sense of what the people think," he said, noting that city staff and the Sun Valley City Council over the next year will be asked to develop and enact a policy for how the site on Sun Valley Road is used.

In conducting the survey, the city mailed out 771 questionnaires to all registered Sun Valley voters. By last Thursday, approximately 40 percent of the questionnaires had been returned to the city. The city plans to accept the questionnaires through mid-May.

The introduction to the survey notes that results will be used to help define potential uses for the next several years "that would not really limit or affect long-term possibilities that remain unidentified."

When asked whether the city over the next several years should "allow temporary uses on a portion of the site for events that could include setting up and taking down a tent," 203 respondents replied "yes," while 97 replied "no."

When asked whether the city should "leave the site as the open space it presently is and continue to display sculpture (replacing the elephants) on a portion of the site," 197 respondents replied "yes," while a mere 79 replied "no."

Voters by a 165-to-100 margin said they preferred not to "leave the site as open pasture with no public or other uses."

Lastly, by an overwhelming 218-to-64 margin, respondents said they do not want the city to "consider placing the old Louie’s (Congregational church) building on the site."

City officials last month rejected a proposal by a group of activists interested in relocating the historic 19th-century church from a vacant lot in Ketchum to the five-acre parcel.

Wilson on Friday confirmed that the proposal to relocate the Louie’s building to the five-acre parcel is "off the table" and will likely not be reconsidered. "I just don’t see a lot of support for that idea," he said.

Wilson said the city has received two requests to use the site for short-term events this coming summer.

One request has been submitted by Ketchum historian Ivan Swaner to use the site during Labor Day weekend for an event that would reenact a 19th century frontier camp. The event would take place in conjunction with Ketchum‘s Wagon Days celebration.

A second request has been put forth by the Sun Valley Fire Department to hold a day-long "Fire Service Appreciation Day" on Saturday, May 31.

Wilson said neither event has been formally approved by the city. Both event sponsors have been asked to provide city officials with a detailed plan of the proposed use of the site, he noted.


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