The city of Ketchum is commencing its campaign to raise $9 million to purchase most of the 78-acre Warm Springs Ranch property to be a public park and preserve.
The City Council approved on Monday a contract with consultant Carter Cox, the head of Hailey-based Nested Strategies, to help conduct the first phase of the campaign. Cox will conduct a “planning study” that identifies potential donors and outlines a strategy for the fundraising effort.
In late April, Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw and Sun Valley developer Bob Brennan signed an option agreement for the city to buy about 64 acres of open space on the property from Brennan to be maintained as a “passive park” and natural area. Brennan agreed to sign the option document after he received city approval to develop 35 homes on 14 acres on the north side of the 78-acre site northwest of downtown.
Brennan offered the sale of the property—a former golf course currently used as a park and dog-walking area—at a discount as a gesture of goodwill to help develop a community asset and as part of his “legacy” as a longtime developer in the Wood River Valley, he has said. The city plans to raise the money through private donors and nonprofit groups, city officials have said.
The city has six months from the date of the signing to raise the $9 million and complete the purchase. The option period can be extended for an additional six months if the city has raised $4.5 million—half the purchase price—in the first six months.
In an interview last week, Bradshaw said he has been working on the plan on several fronts. In addition to hiring Cox to assist the city, he is “rallying community members” and working on a comprehensive document that can be distributed to the public and potential donors. The city intends to complete a list of “frequently asked questions” about the plan and possibly a “menu” of opportunities for donors to be named or recognized, Bradshaw said.
“What we want to do is present the opportunity to the community and see if they’re supportive or not,” Bradshaw said.
The city still needs to define its overall vision for the site, Bradshaw said, determining whether plans would include a trail connecting central Ketchum to the Warm Springs neighborhood, how the site would be irrigated and how it will be maintained. So far, Bradshaw said he has been encouraged by the initial reactions of people with whom he has discussed the plan.
“By late July, I think we’ll know whether we can achieve this or not,” he said.
Since the city is not a fundraising entity, it needed to hire a consultant to work on the project, Bradshaw told the Express.
If the sale of the 64 acres to the city is not completed, Brennan would retain ownership and he—or, if he sold the land, another developer—would have the option to submit applications to develop the seven parcels that comprise the current park. The area would be subject to the city’s planned-unit development process, which would treat the parcels as one site requiring a cohesive, overarching development plan.
Brennan has repeatedly said he wants the sale to be completed.
According to Bradshaw, others agree.
“Everyone wants it to happen,” he said.