Ketchum backs recreation center plan
Resolution places financial burden on center
By GREG STAHL
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
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
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
"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
"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.