The city of Ketchum held an informal Town Square open house on Wednesday to gauge community support for its Fourth Street closure, instituted earlier this summer.
City representatives, including Mayor Neil Bradshaw and City Councilman Jim Slanetz, met with residents who browsed display boards along Fourth Street. The city officials encouraged passersby to take an online survey in exchange for a free scoop of ice cream from Leroy’s. (The survey, found at https://bit.ly/2EVPTKW, asks participants to rate their level of support for the closure.)
The Ketchum City Council first voted to close Fourth Street to motorized traffic on June 1, instituting a two-block closure between Walnut and Leadville Avenues. On Aug. 3, the council decided to reopen the section of Fourth between East and Walnut Avenues to cars and keep the other block pedestrian-only. The partial reopening followed a series of legal complaints lodged against the city by business owners along that stretch of Fourth Street.
“We made the [June 1] decision after COVID happened and there was this clamor from our community to create more open space and distance safely,” Bradshaw said in a Wednesday interview. “It was a test to see what it would look like with two blocks closed to cars. After July, we wanted to see how things would go with just one block closed.”
Not all residents present at Town Square on Wednesday were in favor of the current East-to-Leadville closure, finding it either underused or too sunny for dining purposes.
“Let’s just say we are not so enthusiastic about it,” said a group of three Ketchum residents who chose not to give their names.
Candice Pate, board co-chair of Visit Sun Valley, said she thought the closure was “fabulous.”
“With tourism being the lifeblood of our economy, I think it’s important to have more places to recreate outdoors,” she said from beneath an umbrella on Fourth Street.
Bradshaw reiterated that the more feedback the city gets, the better the council’s decisions.
“Public engagement has been difficult with COVID-19 but this [open house] is a chance to do that safely out on the street, and visit with people,” he said.
The city’s survey will remain live until Sunday, Sept. 13, with results posted the following Thursday on the Ketchum website.