It could be said that 2005 was the year that shook Ketchum alive.
Residents and city officials found themselves wrestling with issues that had been creeping into the collective subconscious for some time, but had only recently been recognized as turning points.
Simultaneous growth in some sectors, such as second-home ownership, and decline in others, like daily-needs retail, presented the city with challenges dubbed "historic" by one outside observer.
Growth affected development proposals, which activated the public; it impacted elk, which will be moved; and it prompted self-reflection, which could alter the course and look of Ketchum forever.
Here are 10 of the top stories of 2005 that caught the public's attention.
Residential building moratorium
Over the past five years, 75 percent of the applications for building permits in the Community Core zoning district were for residential projects.
Concurrently, residents and visitors saw retail businesses struggle or close altogether. Replacing them were banks or condominiums.
The bank building boom, especially on Main Street, coupled with the closing of Williams Market amounted to a "coup de grace" for city officials.
The City Council on Oct. 11 approved a 182-day moratorium on applications to build single-family dwellings or projects that include first-floor residential units in all areas of the city's Community Core zone.
The CC zone comprises the city's commercial center, including Main Street and outlying streets to the east and west. With the temporary halt to certain residential construction, the city said it would have time to write new ordinances that would ensure retail space is preserved in the city center.
Simon v. Hall lawsuit resolution
A bizarre chapter in Ketchum's political history came to a close in early March, when a lawsuit between the city and City Council President Randy Hall was resolved.
The dispute broke out in September 2004, after Ketchum City Attorney Ben Worst asked Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas to prosecute Hall for "multiple criminal and civil conflict-of-interest violations."
Worst alleged that Hall had violated Idaho law by holding two paid positions with the city: an on-call firefighter/paramedic position with the Fire Department and a seat on the City Council.
Hall claimed the suit was initiated by Mayor Ed Simon, a political rival. Simon maintained that legal counsel originated the charges.
The suit was dismissed when Hall switched to volunteer status with the Fire Department.
In the agreement, the city agreed to pay more than $5,000 to Hall in legal fees.
Council President Randy Hall decisively beat incumbent Mayor Ed Simon in November's municipal election. Hall also bested three other challengers: former City Councilman Maurice Charlat, political newcomer Dan Stein and frequent government critic Mickey Garcia.
The election brought to an end the political rivalry between Hall and Simon—a relationship marked occasionally by lawsuits and public arguments.
Hall took in 503 votes. Charlat came in second place, with 344 votes, while Simon's 142 votes put him in third place. Garcia and Stein each received double-digit votes.
Warm Springs Ranch
Despite a recommendation for approval by the city's Planning & Zoning Commission, the City Council last summer expressed serious reservations about the development proposal for Warm Springs Ranch, prompting property owners Sun Valley Ventures to pull their applications for the $200 million plan.
The council gave a lukewarm reception to the project, in part because it called for decommissioning a public golf course. Other aspects included a boutique hotel, parking structure, public park and nature center.
In July the City Council requested additional studies on the project's impacts on traffic, recreation and downtown economic activity.
The plan was permanently derailed in August when hotel operator Noble House Hotels pulled out of the project.
Sun Valley Ventures submitted a subdivision application for their property within the city limits, and announced in December that the 52-year old Warm Springs Restaurant would be demolished and rebuilt.
Elk relocation plans
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, with assistance from Warm Springs Ranch property owner Sun Valley Ventures, announced they will relocate a herd of elk that has been spending winters in and around Ketchum.
The agency, and many residents, had fed the ungulates in winter. Fish and Game ceased its feeding operations during the winter of 2004-2005. But the animals continued to congregate in the northwest part of the city and on the Warm Springs Golf Course, resulting in Fish and Game's decision to "trap and transplant" the herd.
Simplot lot approval
The City Council in November unanimously approved a project submitted by the Simplot family, including a plan for a new Sun Valley Center for the Arts headquarters.
The 3.8-acre parcel that encompasses two city blocks immediately northwest of the Ketchum Post Office, along Second Avenue, will be the site of the arts center, condominiums and 15,000 square feet of community housing.
The city gave up 33,000 square feet of public rights of way. In return, the Simplots agreed to create public parks, make improvements to a public bike path crossing the site and offer public access to an underground parking garage.
Hemingway House access
Threats of a lawsuit, discussions of public access to historic properties and arguments about property rights came to a close in late August when The Nature Conservancy opted out of allowing increased public tours at the house once occupied by late author Ernest Hemingway. TNC initially proposed a text amendment to the Ketchum zoning code to allow limited public tours in all zoning districts.
The organization wanted the changes in order to allow limited but regular public tours of the home, located next to the Big Wood River on East Canyon Run Boulevard.
Their plan was to transfer ownership of the building to the nonprofit Idaho Hemingway House Foundation, while keeping the land as a nature preserve.
Neighbors of the Hemingway estate hired an attorney to fight the proposal, and The Nature Conservancy eventually withdrew its support of the idea.
Restoration of the house and the installation of a live-in caretaker are part of the revised plan.
Plans that began in 1989 for a recreational facility in Ketchum reached a milestone in September when the City Council approved the Wood River Community YMCA.
Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking in November to mark the construction phase of the 84,000-square-foot facility to be built on the corner of Warm Springs and Saddle roads.
The YMCA, which Ketchum voters endorsed in November 2004, will include an ice rink, two swimming pools, a gymnasium, a climbing wall and other facilities.
The city bought the lot in 1989 through a voter-approved general obligation bond.
Bald Mountain Lodge property sale
Ketchum developer Brian Barsotti relinquished ownership of the 1-acre parcel at 151 S. Main St., the site of the defunct Bald Mountain Lodge motor inn, on the south end of town.
An ownership group called Bald Mountain L.L.C. bought the land in March. The new owners discussed preliminary plans to build a 60- to 70-room high-end lodge on the property, but the land sat idle the rest of the year.
Historic preservation advocate Anne Zauner launched an effort to save some of the remaining cabins before they were lost to history.
At year's end, the property looked much the same as it did in January.
Downtown master plan formulation
In mid-October, citing the pressure of the six-month moratorium deadline to stimulate the downtown core, the Ketchum City Council voted to hire an economic development consultant.
The city contracted with Moscow-based consultant Tom Hudson to help create the framework for a downtown master plan.
In the first of three phases, Hudson conducted several public meetings in order to get ideas on what Ketchum residents want their town to be.
Their story will be continued.