Hailey City Hall

The Hailey City Council authorized Mayor Martha Burke to sign a $950,000 purchase and sale agreement on Monday for potential acquisition of property at 116 S. River St., adjacent to City Hall and the Hailey Public Library.

The agreement gives the city 60 days to examine “the feasibility, benefits, affordability and public sentiment” of acquiring one-fourth of the city block, which, eventually, could turn into the city’s long-sought town square.

The site has the same footprint as the current City Hall and library building at 115 S. Main St., Burke said. It currently houses a building occupied by Copy & Print built in the mid-1960s for use as a post office facility.

The city has had a decades-long interest in the property, Burke added, but owners did not have interest in selling until recently. In the first week of June, the site was listed for $1.1 million by listing agent James Kuehn of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties.

The seller, Ted Pierson of Two MP LLC, was willing to enter into a 60-day agreement that will allow the city to think through the viability of such a purchase.

“The [60 days] will give us the chance to look at what could be best use of this property, how we might finance [the acquisition] and to hear from the citizens of Hailey,” Burke said.

Last Monday, the council approved a resolution authorizing Burke to sign a $900,000 agreement for the property.

“The city of Hailey is growing, has and will continue to have needs to hold and develop real property in keeping with its duty to serve the general welfare,” the resolution stated. “The city … has both identified and unidentified potential synergistic public uses for [the parcel].”

The initial purchase and sale agreement—signed by Burke on June 15—offered $10,000 in earnest money toward a purchase price of $900,000. The earnest money is “fully refundable, without any penalty,” according to the city.

Last week, the city received a counteroffer of $950,000, which the City Council first reviewed in executive session Monday. The council then convened in an open session and accepted the offer.

“This infrastructure will help us connect to the community,” Councilman Juan Martinez said of the site.

Council President Kaz Thea said the property’s location along the corner of River and Croy streets made it ideal for a future town square.

“The opportunity to purchase property that is right in front of the current City Hall and fronts River Street is incredibly exciting. We would be foolish not to consider this,” Thea said. “With the buildout of the bike-pedestrian [pathway] along River Street and City Hall blocking traffic noise, there is the potential for building a town square here. That, to me, is critical.”

Councilman Sam Linnet said the site offers “a whole myriad of potential uses,” including public performances and outreach events.

“We’ll need to get public input to figure out what citizens want us to do, if there’s interest and support for this piece of property,” he said.

An earlier site favored by the council for a new town square was the corner of First Avenue and east Croy Street. In 2019, the estimated cost of constructing a town square—excluding the cost of land acquisition—was set at a maximum of $1 million.

“I’m ready to jump forward with two feet,” Burke said before Monday’s unanimous vote.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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