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For the week of June 4 - 10, 2003


Council says move Louie’s, not Guy Coles Skate Park

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum’s Guy Coles Skate Park will not be relocated to the city Park and Ride Lot to provide a permanent site for the historic Congregational church known as "Louie’s."

With City Hall packed with spectators Monday, June 2, Ketchum City Council members unanimously voted to keep the skateboard facility situated in its existing location at the northwest corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads.

"I don’t see the point in it," Councilman Baird Gourlay said, just moments before putting forth a motion to maintain the park in its current site.

With Councilman Maurice Charlat absent from the meeting, the panel subsequently voted 3-0 to support Gourlay’s position.

The vote was a victory for a large contingent of Ketchum area residents and youths who voiced their staunch opposition to a plan to move the park. The decision yielded yet another setback for the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society and its Save the Church Committee, which has been actively seeking a permanent location in the area for the 122-year-old church structure.

At issue Monday was a proposal by City Administrator Ron LeBlanc to relocate the skate park across the street to the city Park and Ride Lot, in part to provide a permanent location for Louie’s on the existing skate park parcel. Louie’s has been in storage on the Park and Ride Lot for the last two years.

The proposal sought to ultimately situate the skate park next to the future Wood River Community YMCA, which is slated to be built on the south side of the Park and Ride parcel. YMCA directors have been asked to submit a master plan for the site by August, and are not averse to having the skate park as a neighbor, LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc noted that regardless of the proposal, the Save the Church Committee was to proceed with a plan to relocate Louie’s early this morning from the Park and Ride Lot to a city storage lot on Lewis Street, where the building will be restored with funds raised by supporters.

The city administrator said Louie’s could eventually be moved from the Lewis Street location to the skate park parcel after a new, larger skate park was built and opened on the Park and Ride Lot.

The city is planning to allocate approximately $125,000 from the city’s 2003-2004 fiscal year budget to make improvements to the skate park, funds which could be used to help construct an entirely new state-of-the-art facility, LeBlanc said.

However, Andy Gilbert, a proponent and caretaker of the Guy Coles Skate Park, said emphatically that he and the scores of youths who use the park would prefer to upgrade the existing facility rather than have it moved.

"We’ve worked very hard to create a sense of ownership on that property," he said, noting that he and other residents have worked for eight years to improve the site. He added: "We feel very strongly we should stay where we are."

Terry Tracy, city parks and recreation director, said she and others want to follow through on a plan to raise funds to upgrade the existing skate park. "I feel that if the city thinks it needs to save Louie’s, it should not be at the expense of another recreation facility," she said.

Subsequently, approximately 25 area residents—many of them youths—told council members they want the park to stay where it is.

"I think you should listen to the kids," said Ketchum resident Jim Jaquet. "I think you need to consider what they’re saying."

Seven audience members said the city should support—or at least consider—the plan.

"We want to preserve a part of history, and we think Louie’s is a good place to start," said Floyd McCracken, co-founder of the Save the Church Committee.

Councilman Randy Hall said he would like to see the city consider the proposal, mainly because a set of water lines underneath the existing skate park could restrict the planned improvement project for the facility. However, he ultimately voted in favor of Gourlay’s motion.

Mayor Ed Simon Tuesday said the city is still "committed" to finding a permanent home for the Louie’s building.



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