Representatives from each of the Wood River Valley’s cities, as well as from businesses and nonprofit groups, will attend a tour of Idaho resort cities next month to learn about best practices that could inform their decisions.

The tour—which will focus on the city of McCall—is designed to give “insights about the mechanics of McCall’s growth, housing, tourism, recreation, transportation, new businesses, the arts, education, and more,” a news release from organizers states.

The findings of the tour can serve to guide discussions among city and county officials in the Wood River Valley, as McCall is similar in size and character to Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, organizers said. Blaine County resident Wendy Jaquet, a former state representative, is the chief organizer. Jaquet served in the Idaho House of Representatives as a representative of the former District 25, which included Blaine County, from 2002-2012.

“The objective is to get everyone thinking and working together better,” Jaquet said.

Jaquet stressed the importance of building relationships with officials in similar resort cities to better collaborate on pressing issues such as regulations of short-term rentals and the development of affordable housing.

The tour will begin Wednesday, April 13, at 8:30 a.m. when the up to 30 travelers depart Hailey and head towards McCall. Along the way, the group will stop in Cascade to meet with its mayor and Donnelly to meet with the head of a housing organization. Once in McCall, the group will take a walking tour of the ice rink, library, lake park, community hub, City Hall and Hotel McCall.

The next day, the group will view presentations at McCall City Hall from various city officials. The presentations will cover everything from governance structure to public improvements and sustainability. Then, the tour will move onto meetings with a variety of other officials, including McCall-Donnelly School District Superintendent Eric Pingrey and Payette Lakes Ski Club Executive Director Colby Nielson. The day will end with a reception at Tamarack Resort, located about a half-hour south of McCall.

On April 15, the final day of the tour, participants will cover a variety of topics related to public and private partnerships. The group will meet with the head of McCall Parks and Recreation, Kurt Wolf, as well as Ponderosa State Park representative Matt Linde. The tour will end with lunch at the McCall Field Campus of University of Idaho before the group departs back home for Hailey.

“I’m delighted that Wendy has planned this tour,” said Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “It’s great to compare notes and share ideas with other cities.”

This is the third trip of its kind, following a 2019 meeting in Twin Falls and a 2018 meeting in Boise. These efforts were inspired in part by a similar trip by officials from Park City, Utah, to Ketchum, which led in-part to the creation of Park City’s bike lanes and public land trusts.

The trip costs $125 a person, which includes food but not lodging or travel costs. There will be a meeting about the trip on March 11 at 2 p.m. at the Hunger Coalition offices in Bellevue. Interested parties can contact Jaquet at wendyjaquet@gmail.com for more information. 

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