Ketchum is in the middle of a class conflict over the potential development of a new four-star hotel on Main Street that could strangle a more stable economic future.
Mountain resort towns are collections of uneasy neighbors with starkly contrasting interests. Some operate in the economic realities of the recreation industry and some live in rose-colored dreams.
It’s easy for residents and part-time residents with incomes secured by inheritance, lucrative pensions or income derived primarily from outside Blaine County to say no to economic growth that may come from additional hotels in Ketchum.
It’s easy to take the position that the use of publicly owned Bald Mountain that is leased to Sun Valley Resort for skiing should be kept secret in order to reserve its use for a privileged few.
It’s easy to take the position that the city should not allow high land prices to be offset with higher densities in the downtown core when it makes no difference to opponents’ pocketbooks.
It’s easy to drag out the tired old arguments that traffic, noise and hotel heights make development unacceptable.
It’s easy to look backward to the days of tumbledown buildings, vacant lots, few jobs with crummy wages, and constant business turnover and call them the “good old days.” It’s easy because the majority of hotel opponents never depended on the local economy for their livelihoods.
Opposing new hotels is easy. Coming up with solutions that balance competing interests in the local community and the economy is hard.
That is where the Ketchum City Council should come in. It must do the hard work and refuse to be cowed by arguments disconnected from local economic reality.