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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Our View

Don’t swap, buy

Ketchum shouldn’t swap its Main Street property for a parking lot near City Hall. Instead, it should buy it.

For $1.3 million, the city could buy the property it wants to preserve for future underground parking. A spokesman for Wells Fargo, the property’s owner, said in a hearing last week that it is willing to sell or swap.

There’s a lot to recommend buying. The city wouldn’t lose its existing visitors’ center on Main Street or leave it wandering in search of a far more expensive home. For a fair market price, it could acquire the land that many see as key to making the increasingly congested downtown work for both cars and pedestrians.

The city should wrap the land purchase into a package that includes filling in missing downtown sidewalks and streetlights.

All Ketchum residents and businesses would benefit from retaining the option to build underground parking, continuing visitor information services, and organizing sidewalks and lighting to make the town truly pedestrian friendly.

The package could be financed as a Local Improvement District, if approved by voters within the district. The city could share the cost with properties and businesses in the district.

The City Council will continue a public hearing on the proposed swap Monday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Buying the property is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The city shouldn’t pass it up.


City of Ketchum

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