The city of Ketchum now has numerous claims for a pot of money for utility-line undergrounding, and the City Council must decide how to split it up.
The council debated the issue Monday but did not reach a decision.
The fund obtains money from the Idaho Power franchise fee. It has $180,000 available, and few undergrounding proposals have come forth in recent years. The fund was used to support city-led energy projects under former Mayor Nina Jonas.
Mayor Neil Bradshaw said the city wants to use $100,000 to underground a utility line in the alley between First Avenue and Second Avenue, next to the new City Hall building on Fifth Street.
Property owner Andy Castellano has requested $30,000 to under-ground a utility line in the alley between Warm Springs Road and Washington Avenue, from Seventh to Ninth streets.
Castellano’s project would cost $120,556 total, and the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency may be an additional source of funding, according to his application.
He wants to have Idaho Power “place one new telephone pole on the north side of Seventh Street to take the lines underground,” his application states. “The existing pole just north of the Cox Communications building will be used to come back above ground. Several poles will be removed between Seventh and Eighth streets.”
The project will take Cox Communications and Century Link data lines underground, as well as the power line.
“I hate looking at powerlines and I think everyone does,” Castellano told the City Council on Monday.
Castellano said he almost backed out of the purchase of his Washington Avenue property due to the line’s interference and appearance.
“This project will benefit the whole community by removing a big obstacle to investment in the downtown community core area,” he wrote in his application. “We designed a building which would house commercial office space, an affordable housing unit, a primary residence and a guest apartment. Unfortunately, the building can not be constructed as designed, because of building restrictions due to the high voltage wires that hang over our lot. Undergrounding the power lines would allow us to go ahead with this planned $3 million investment in the downtown core.”
The council did not make a decision and Bradshaw opted to delay the issue. Councilman Jim Slanetz recused himself because he wants to apply to the fund to underground powerlines near the Board Bin. He owns the property at 180 Fourth St. with his wife, Karin.
In addition to the city’s plans for the alley next to the new City Hall, Bradshaw said, other applications could come forth.
“Is this is a priority location versus other priority locations to bury?” Bradshaw asked of Castellano’s application. “It’s not the most visible.”
Councilwoman Courtney Ha-
milton said the Castellano ap-
plication should receive priority because it was submitted first.
However, Bradshaw opted to table the discussion and revive the issue at a future council meeting.
“We’ve got to be practical here,”
The council did vote to approve spending $356 from the fund to help pay for a $1,425 engineering study for another undergrounding project on Broadway Boulevard next to the Big Wood River. Utility lines would be undergrounded on five properties on Broadway near Sunnyside Boulevard, according to an application from property owner Jenna Hall.
“The view corridor for all
residents will be greatly im-
proved,” Hall wrote in her appli-
cation. “There is a widely used river access close to this view corridor.”