Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Reclaim the streets

If Ketchum really wants to become a town that works for cars, pedestrians and cyclists, it's going to have to quit being shy about reclaiming rights of way that belong to the city.

When discussion of improvements to Warm Springs Road came before the Ketchum City Council recently, talk turned to the fact that some property owners will not be happy when the city uses the full road width for bike lanes, sidewalks and improvements to the roadway.

Travel improvements on the road that leads to Baldy's second base area may require that trees, lawns, fences, irrigation systems and other obstructions within the city's right of way be removed.

Warm Springs isn't the only street that the city needs to reclaim.

Property owners have pinched large swaths of Ketchum's rights of way. Areas that should have sidewalks and on-street parking have none. Unenforceable "No Parking" notices are privately posted on fences and stakes to scare drivers away.

Some alleys that should be open for business drop-offs and deliveries look more like private storage areas.

The city's neglect has produced disorganized traffic flows, chaotic parking and dangerous tangles of pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles. This is bad for residents and visitors, and bad for business.

If Ketchum is ever to become the friendly and charming place it says it wants to be, it's going to have to develop some courage. Trees, lawns and fences within public rights of way are not sacrosanct. They can be moved or replaced—on private property.

The city should go full speed ahead, reclaim its streets and organize the town—for everyone's benefit.

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