Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Whitewater park facing delays

Government shutdown expected to set project back about 3 months

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Smith told the City Council on Monday that the proposed whitewater park north of the city will incur delays related to the recent federal government shutdown.
“The government shutdown set the project back three months,” Smith said. “It was expected that we would be able to begin construction on the river in the fall of 2014. That’s not totally off the table, but I have to be realistic in terms of what the federal government has the capacity for at this point in time.”
On Oct. 1, the federal government shut down, causing most Bureau of Land Management employees to be furloughed and unable to communicate with the Parks Department. Communication on the project resumed on Oct. 17 when the government shutdown ended.
Smith said the BLM can no longer afford to pay the Parks Department money owed as part of an assistance agreement made between the two organizations. Previously, the BLM paid $2,500 to $3,100 annually, but has not paid the fee for two years. As a result, the department chose to work with the BLM free of charge and the assistance agreement has now turned into a maintenance agreement instead.

I have to be realistic in terms of what the federal government has the capacity for at this point in time.”
Jennifer Smith
Ketchum parks director

Smith also said a change order for the project will end up costing $24,150. She said donor support for the order was discussed at the previous task force meeting.
However, Smith was also able to deliver some good news, as a set of “60 percent design drawings” have been completed and can be incorporated into an environmental assessment.
In 2008, the city filed for a Recreation and Public Purposes patent for the land near Hulen Meadows while partnering with the nonprofit Wood River Land Trust. In January, the patent for the land grant was put on hold because the BLM told the city it did not have the resources to process the plan.
The 60 percent design unveiling has been tentatively set for Dec. 12 at the Church of Big Wood in Ketchum. The public has been encouraged to provide input to the city, the Wood River Land Trust, BLM and all other stakeholders.

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