Friday, December 28, 2012

In Hailey, 2012 brought new signs of optimism

Public projects deemed a success, but annexations posed challenges


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

A proposed annexation of the Quigley Canyon Ranch property into the city of Hailey came to a halt in July. Plans called for some 440 houses on the site east of downtown. Photo by Mountain Express

The city of Hailey moved forward with several eco-friendly building initiatives and completed a major public works project in Woodside subdivision in 2012.

 

Woodside Boulevard

Hailey’s largest public works project in decades was completed in the fall, with a complete reconstruction of 2.5 miles of Woodside Boulevard. The street was enhanced with bike lanes and sidewalks on its entire length. It features bus shelters, mailbox racks and traffic calming measures, a roundabout at Fox Acres Road and a traffic signal at the intersection of state Highway 75.

 

Hailey green initiatives

The city that has led the valley in sustainability initiatives surpassed in 2012 its goal of reducing carbon emissions. The goal of the Hailey Climate Challenge was to save enough energy to provide heat and power to 45 homes for one year. By the end of September, the city’s numerous initiatives had saved enough energy to heat and power 50.77 homes for one year.

Hailey Sustainability Coordinator Mariel Platt held 13 “green initiative” workshops in 2012, including plastic bag reuse and cold-frame, chicken-coop and salvage-building workshops. The city also held seven energy-efficiency and renewable-energy workshops, as well as tours of the almost-completed LEED-certified Hailey Welcome Center, 

 The city retrofitted all Main Street streetlights to LED, cutting energy costs in half, and has seen the completion of 34 Save-A-Watt energy audits and energy efficiency improvements/retrofits. Each Save-a-Watt applicant has saved on average $152 per year in energy costs. Twenty-one apartment unit audits and retrofits have been completed in Hailey by the Hailey Community Climate Challenge partner, South Central Community Action Partnership. 

Sixty Hailey residents participated in the Community Audit and Retrofit Rebate Program.Volunteer Elizabeth Jeffrey and Clear Creek Disposal worked with building contractors on projects in Hailey to divert construction waste, save money and obtain financial incentives offered by the Hailey Community Climate Challenge for participating in tracking waste and diversion and money spent on these projects. To date, the average participant has saved $1,626 by diverting an average of 43 percent of construction-related waste and by avoiding more expensive tipping fees and trash container rentals for waste that is sent to the landfill.  

 

Hailey annexations

In July, the Hailey City Council put to rest a four-year-long annexation request by developer Dave Hennessy, formally terminating a request for a 440-home development in Quigley Canyon east of downtown. The Blaine County Recreation District then moved its Nordic skiing operation to Croy Canyon on the other side of town.

During the last days of 2012, Old Cutters subdivision developer John Campbell was working in bankruptcy court toward a possible payment plan to the city of Hailey. Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson said he expected the plan to be approved by the court, leading to the payment of $2.4 million in annexation fees owed to the city.

 

Big retail on Main Street

During the last weeks of 2012, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved an application by O’Reilly Auto Parts stores to open a retail and wholesale outlet on Main Street at the south end of town. 

Earlier in the year, the Community Development Department, at the request of commercial real estate agents, had recommended changes to the city’s zoning ordinance to allow for retail in that location.

 

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

It has been three and a half years since Blaine County soldier Bowe Bergdahl was taken by Taliban militants. His capture drew international attention in 2009 upon the city of Hailey where the soldier grew up and once worked as a barista. 

After making direct pleas on the Internet to his captors to free their son, Bergdahl’s parents broke their silence in the media by telling the Idaho Mountain Express that they were frustrated with U.S. military efforts to proceed with a prisoner swap.

In June, an interview given by Bowe’s father, Bob Bergdahl, to Rolling Stone magazine indicated that their son likely walked off his post in June 2009 in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan before being captured. Since that time, he has been shown in several videos posted by his captors on the Internet. 

In September, former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette published “No Easy Day,” a memoir that recounts efforts to free Bergdahl shortly after he was captured. The book includes an account of an unsuccessful night raid on a Taliban stronghold where Bergdahl was thought to be held captive. 

Bowe Bergdahl was named grand marshal in the Hailey Fourth of July parade. The city and county remain marked by numerous yellow ribbons anticipating his safe return. 

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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