Lupine Photo by Whitney McNees Gershater
City of Ketchum
P.O. Box 2315
480 East Avenue N.
Ketchum, Idaho 83340
"Small Town, Big Life"
A Message From Mayor Nina Jonas: Discover the Little Treasures of Ketchum
A tiny park with a tiny lending library. A small garden, tended by children. A pillar for chalk art, where you can scribble a special Father's Day message.
This is the Ketchum for locals, filled with the little treasures that visitors so often overlook. Early June is the time to enjoy them. Life moves more slowly during shoulder season, as we rest after winter's hubbub of activities and prepare for the busy summer days of hiking and biking.
There's time to borrow a book from the Little Free Library, created by the Montessori School seven years ago. You'll find it in Edelweiss Park at the end of Fourth Street. Read it as you munch a lunchtime sandwich, sitting beside a lovely sculpture by Joan Barrantes.
Stop by the Watch Me Grow garden in Atkinson Park, and talk to children in the city's recreation programs about the nutritious vegetables they are growing. Meander downtown to Little Park and scribble a message to a loved one on the Chalk Art pillar. You can even draw a picture or write a message about the treasure of Ketchum.
You'll be glad you took the time.
Q. I am sure I am not alone in being horrified at the overwhelming appearance of the new hotel at the entrance to Ketchum's downtown. It looms over our charming Main Street, casting shade and blocking the view of Baldy. It seems totally out of proportion.
I do not remember the process by which the hotel was approved, but I am distraught that the developer presumably did not fully convey the projected appearance to those who made the decision and that now we are stuck with this monstrosity.
I have two requests:
Can the looming facade of the hotel be softened and mitigated by plantings along the sidewalk or perhaps some creative paint scheme or some visual device that reduces the appearance of bulk?
Can this monstrosity be a lesson to future city leaders as they consider applications from future developers? Realistic renderings of the relative size and positioning of proposed buildings should be demanded.
I can only hope that the hotel to be constructed on the former Trail Creek Village site will not be as inappropriate for our town as the Limelight is.
A. The Limelight Hotel design was approved through a lengthy public process dating back to 2002. From 2002 to 2015, the design of the hotel changed significantly, and each request for change underwent public review. The current design was approved in 2015 and reflects the community's concerns and comments that were received through the public process. As part of this public process, 3-D renderings were released to the public and considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission. In addition, solar studies, shading and view corridors were discussed throughout the process. The hotel will be lined with landscaping and exterior finishes that are designed to soften the walls and break up the mass of the building. However, these improvements will not be seen until the project is nearing completion. All plans and approvals for the project are available for viewing upon request. The
shows how the hotel is expected to look upon completion.
The same lengthy public process holds true for the Auberge Hotel on the former Trail Creek Village site. A site plan can be viewed
and the full set of plans is available at City Hall.
Note: If you submit a question to "Ask Nina," your name may be published unless you request that it be withheld.
Economic development continues to improve in Ketchum, judging by the number of new businesses coming to town and the building construction and remodeling taking place.
One measure of economic development is construction activity, both new construction and investment in remodels and tenant improvements. Another measure is the number of new businesses locating in Ketchum. While these measures are important, equally important is quality of life and sustainability. National economic development experts now identify quality of life as a key economic driver, ranging from good health care facilities to cultural institutions, vibrant public spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities. All are crucial in attracting a skilled labor force and desirable employers.
Today's thriving communities are those with lively neighborhoods and business districts, cultural and recreational attractions, a great sense of place, protected natural areas, and deep pride in local character, products and foods. This is achieved through an open, collaborative process involving all stakeholders in the community.
Ketchum has many of these qualities and investment in the community continues to improve. Perhaps the most visible testimony to Ketchum's economic recovery is at the intersection of Main Street and Sun Valley Road, where Zions Bank and the Warfield Distillery are across the street from each other.
Zions recently completed a $1 million renovation of the façade and reconstruction of the entire interior to a building they don't even own. This type of investment is a statement that Zion's believes in the future of Ketchum.
The Warfield Distillery has opened in another completely remodeled building. The owners of the brew pub and distillery wanted to restore the building because of its historical value. They spent close to $1 million on the restoration after they had purchased the building.
With these major building facelifts at Ketchum's key intersection, downtown is looking better than it has in years.
But there are other positive signs of a strengthening economy. The number of new businesses locating in Ketchum and the creation of long term year round jobs are also important measures. The number of new businesses opening in Ketchum has remained steady at approximately 50 per year. This year's new businesses include several that are health and wellness related, a new contractor and some unique businesses such as Vie Active, Vyykn and UiUx, the parent company of Solu. UiUx, plans to hire 88 full-time employees with an average wage of $60,500, and a projected economic impact of $20.1 million.
New construction and development activity is also improving as demonstrated by the following:
- In the first five months of 2016, Ketchum received 46 planning applications, most of which are expected to lead to applications for building permits.
- The city already has issued 54 building permits as of the end of May. Last year, only 38 building permits had been issued in the same time period.
- To date in 2016, building permits represent $48 million in construction, compared to $38 million at this time last year.
- Two major hotels are underway, the Limelight is under construction and Auberge has submitted for a building permit.
- Between January and May in 2015, commercial tenant improvements were $1.8 million. In 2016, tenant improvements for the same period total $4.1 million, almost twice as much as the total amount in 2015 of $2.2 million.
- New residential construction in the first five months of 2015 totaled $2 million. During the same period in 2016, they totaled $10.7 million.
- In 2000, the total building permit valuation was $64.1 million, in 2005 the total was $75.2 million. In the last two years, permit values have increased; total building permit valuation for 2015 was $53 million. As of May 31, 2016, it was $48 million.
- Major projects this year include the $3.5 million remodel of the Community School campus, $8 million for the Thunder Spring residential condominiums and $1.6 million for construction of the Kneebone office and residential building at Fifth Street and Washington Avenue.
According to Don Schuster, vice president of hospitality development for Aspen Skiing Company, the Limelight already has sold 9 of its 14 residential condos. Purchasers all have a history of repeat visits here or live locally. As expected, most out-of-state buyers are from California or the Seattle area.
The question keeps coming up, is it the hotels that make the permit numbers so high? Yes, they are a major contributor, but developments such as hotels kick-start and rejuvenate other property investments. This is reflected in the increase in commercial tenant improvements that have doubled since 2015.
Measuring and determining a healthy and sustainable economy no longer relies on just one or two factors such as new development and permit activity. The old widespread theories of economic development have been turned upside down; there has been a vast change in the way successful communities are measured.
A vital local economy was once based on attracting large companies by offering inexpensive locations and a cheap labor force. The qualities of a particular place had little influence. Now, communities with lively destinations that focus on quality of life, embrace sustainability and promote walking and transit access, have a distinct advantage.
"All of this investment is a statement about the future of Ketchum," Mayor Nina Jonas said. "People are investing here because they believe the economy is healthy and it is a great community to live, work, and play in. As the world becomes more mobile, businesses have become much more selective about where to locate. Quality of life, community values, and a strong sense of place have become priorities in the global economy."
Our job is to maintain and improve the quality of life within our community and encourage investment in the local economy. We must stay focused on the priorities of the "new economy;" if we disregard these principles, we will lose our competitive edge.
CITY RECEIVES $10,000 GRANT TO CONSERVE GROUNDWATER
The city has received a $10,000 grant from the
Idaho Water Resource Board
to conserve groundwater from city wells by upgrading irrigation systems in four city parks. The upgraded irrigation systems are expected to reduce water use by 20 to 60 percent, saving more than 1 million gallons of water per year now used in the Ketchum Bike Park, the Guy Coles Skate Park, Edelweiss Park and Forest Service Park. The city will provide matching funds of $20,000.
|HAPPY TRAILS WORK OFF TO HAPPY START
The Happy Trails project is off to a happy start, with work already completed on two of the thirteen trails slated for rehabilitation, connecting Ketchum residents and area visitors to the Big Wood River.
The city, in partnership with the
Idaho Conservation League
, received a $14,900 grant from
to improve public access to the Big Wood River. Currently, there are 16 Big Wood River access points within city limits, yet only a few are marked with signs and some of the trails are overgrown with vegetation, making it difficult for people to know where they can access the river. The Happy Trails project will improve these conditions, supporting the restoration of trails and riverside land, removing noxious weeds, adding signage, marking parking areas and rerouting unsustainable trails.
Community support is a crucial part of the Happy Trails Project. Together with the Idaho Conservation League, we are working to generate support from local businesses and raise awareness with the general community. Jointly, we are facilitating volunteer opportunities to inspire community members to help with trail maintenance along 11 remaining paths.
Thank you, thank you to
Keller Williams Sun Valley
, the first group to take advantage of this volunteer opportunity! They were among 134,000 Keller Williams associates worldwide participating in the real estate franchise's annual
(Renew, Energize and Donate). Its associates donated a day to give back to their local community, contributing labor to improve two trails that provide access to a 10-foot angler easement along the east side of the Big Wood River; Bear Lane and Northwood Way trails.
Twenty Keller Williams agents helped to dig paths, remove rocks and brush and spread decomposed granite, a trail base that provides easier access for wheelchair users and those with other mobility issues.
"We were thrilled to perform such a fantastic project for Ketchum," said Keller William's Lane Monroe. "Giving back to the community for this type of project is important to us. Public lands access is near and dear to Idahoans."
There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer outside this summer with the City of Ketchum and Idaho Conservation League as a part of the Happy Trails Project. How can you lend a hand to improve trails in your community and connect with the Big Wood River? Let us know at
KETCHUM SEEKS INCREASE IN AMBULANCE SERVICE CONTRACT
Ketchum, which has been supporting ambulance service in northern Blaine County by almost a quarter of a million dollars a year, is asking for a 10 percent increase in county funding next year.
Even if county commissioners approve Ketchum's request of $1,137,943, it will still fall approximately $100,000 short of expected costs, according to Mike Elle, chief of fire and emergency medical services.
Ambulance service throughout the county is funded by a specific property tax levy, and county commissioners also serve as commissioners of the Blaine County Ambulance District. They are scheduled to meet Monday at 3:15 p.m. in the Blaine County Courthouse to discuss how to divide the tax dollars collected among the ambulance services in the county.
The Ketchum contract with the ambulance district covers approximately 70 percent of the appraised valuation in the county. Nevertheless, the county historically has allocated slightly less than 50 percent of the tax revenue to Ketchum. In the previous fiscal year, ambulance costs exceeded reimbursement by $224,418.
This figure only covers operating costs when an ambulance responds to calls, Elle said. Ketchum also garages the ambulances in its fire station, which is deteriorating and needs replacing. Because Ketchum's storage space is so limited, it must buy medical supplies in small quantities and cannot take advantage of volume prices.
"We should not continue operating at a loss and capital funding must be considered," said Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas.
Ambulance district tax dollars have failed to fully cover the costs of services since the introduction of paramedics in 2001, Elle said. Paramedics can administer medications and perform advanced life support procedures in the field, while emergency medical technicians generally stabilize and transport a patient. An EMT requires approximately 120 hours of training, while a paramedic has a two-year degree program with significant annual continuing education required.
Ketchum fire last year responded to 915 emergency calls, of which 603, or 64 percent, were for medical reasons. Simultaneous calls also are occurring more frequently than in past years. Last year there were simultaneous calls 23 percent of the time, compared to 11 percent in 2007.
As the population ages, Elle said, medical calls have become more complex, requiring paramedic level assessments and treatments. In addition, there has been a decline in the number of applicants for paid-on-call EMT positions, meaning that the department has had to increase its full-time staff. With better building codes, fire safety has improved and helped to minimize structure fires.
The Ketchum Fire Department provides paramedic-level ambulance transport service from the Greenhorn Gulch bridge on Highway 75 north to the county line near Fourth of July Creek, including Alturas and Petit lakes, and the city of Sun Valley.
Ketchum is continuing to collaborate with other fire departments toward consolidation in order to save tax dollars by providing the most efficient services, Elle said.
START TAPPING YOUR TOES - SUMMER MUSIC WILL SOON BE HERE
Get ready for some old favorites, some new treats and lots of Idaho jazz at free concerts co-sponsored by the city this summer.
Will Caldwell has organized Ketch'em Alive concerts in Forest Service Park and Jazz in the Park in Rotary Park for the past 17 years.
Ketch'em Alive, from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesdays from June 14 through Aug. 9, will bring a combination of DJs and live music on two evenings this summer. "It's what's happening at big music festivals," he said. "I decided to make a big splash this year and bring two different DJs to Ketchum."
"The DJ will keep a strong background beat going, and we're hoping people will dance throughout the entire evening," he said. Additions to the DJs music can be anything from vocalists to drummers to belly dancers. Luke McNees, Lost River Disco producer, will perform on June 28 and DJ Doc and DJ Alien, on Aug. 9. Both are local.
The rest of Ketch'em Alive will feature everything from Celtic to Latin to cowboy to classic rock tunes. Claire Cetera, daughter of Ketchum's recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Peter Cetera, will perform July 5 with the band City City from Los Angeles. July 19 will bring national fiddling champion Matthew Hartz and his band.
Jazz in the Park, Sundays from 6-8 p.m. at Rotary Park from June 26 to July 31, will feature Idaho groups. New this year is Braziliance, with Cintia Scola, a Wood River Valley resident and native of Brazil, as the lead singer.
|Idaho Falls Jazz House Big Band
Jazz in the Park is sponsored by the city and Wood River Fine Arts Gallery.
June 14: Tyler and the Train Robbers; June 21: The Heaters; June 28: Lost River Disco; July 5: City City with Claire Cetera; July 12: Todo Mundo; July 19: Matthew Hartz Band; July 26: Swagger; Aug. 2: Pixie and the Partygrass Boys; Aug. 9: Freak Out with Doc Rock and DJ Alien.
June 26: Louis Ramanos Quartet; July 3: Nicole Christensen vocalist and Chuck Smith on piano; July 10: Alan Pennay and Friends; July 17: Sally Tibbs vocalist and Kevin Kirk on piano; July 24: Braziliance; July 31: Idaho Falls Jazz House Big Band.
KETCHUM TO OPEN PICKLEBALL COURTS
Thanks to Mayor Jonas,
is becoming a very popular sport in Ketchum! So popular, that four courts will soon be available..
Ketchum will paint pickleball lines on two of the Atkinson Park tennis courts within the next two weeks. Although they are reserved for the city's Summer Youth Recreation Program Mondays though Thursdays from 8-11:30 a.m. and 12:30-4 p.m., they are available for public use at other times on a first-come, first-served basis. Because the courts will be designed for multiple activities, city staff will monitor them closely for possible conflicts.
In addition, Ketchum staff will erect a temporary court on the parking lot south of the Ernest Hemingway School, which the Blaine County School District allows the city to use for recreation during the summer. Basketball standards also will be placed on the lot as other basketball courts will be unavailable this summer because of playground construction at Hemingway Elementary School.
Dani Dean, unofficial spokesperson for local pickleball players, recent thanked the city for "the great work that you are doing in Ketchum."
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It is considered easier and less strenuous than the other similar sports, and has become increasingly popular among older adults and children in recent years.
The Ketchum courts are the only public courts in northern Blaine County. Come out and enjoy them!
RELATIVE SAYS HE NEEDS BAIL MONEY? CHECK WITH POLICE!
You get a call from a relative who says he's in jail. He needs you to send money for bail right away. Be careful - it could be a scam.
Ketchum police have encountered several incidents recently when scam artists have claimed to be relatives needing money. If you receive such a call, first try to contact the friend or relative at the usual location to see if help is actually needed. If you cannot reach him or her, call Ketchum police before you send any money. Law enforcement officials can contact authorities in other cities to find out if the person actually is in jail or has been a robbery victim.
Another fraud encountered by Ketchum police last month involved a citizen who received a call from someone claiming to represent a financial institution. The caller claimed that a loan payment was overdue. This citizen contacted police and determined that it was a case of identity theft. Identity theft is an increasing problem, and booklets explaining how to report it are available at the Ketchum Police Department at City Hall.
BRITTANY SKELTON NAMED ASSOCIATE PLANNER
Brittany Skelton, former planning and zoning administrator in the city of Victor, has joined the city of Ketchum as associate planner. Before going to Victor in 2013, she was volunteer program coordinator for an historic places district in Cincinnati for three years. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.
"After touring ongoing projects my first few days and attending a lecture at The Community Library and a play-reading at nexStage my first few nights in town, it's already clear to me that the motto 'Small Town, Big Life' is accurate! I'm excited to have joined the dynamic, collaborative city of Ketchum team and look forward to becoming a part of the community," she said.
Business Activity Expands
Fifteen new business licenses have been issued since the start of this new year, bringing a number of new jobs.
Business activity continues to expand in Ketchum, with 54 building permits issued between Jan. 1 and May 31. This compares to 38 permits in the same period last year.
Building Permit Fees Revised
Ketchum now requires building permit applicants to pay the review and inspection fees upon submission of applications. The remainder of the fees are payable within five working days after approval. If all fees are not paid within five days after a building permit has been issued, the city will charge an administrative fee of $190 per day for additional staff work resulting from the delay.
City Partners With Solu in Demonstration Project
Solu and the city are creating a demonstration project using the new company's personal archive and autobiography software application, which allows people and organizations to tell their stories on iPads and other tablets. An introduction to Ketchum will soon be available, incorporating video, audio, still photography and text.
Solu is the first project of User Interface User Experience (UiUx), a start-up software company located in the Ketchum Innovation Center.
UiUx plans to hire 88 full-time employees with an average wage of $60,500 and a projected economic impact of $20.1 million. This addition of year-round, long-term jobs contributes greatly to our increasing economic success.
The city app will include autobiographies of Ketchum's elected officials and key employees, as well as history and personal stories about the activities that make Ketchum such a desirable place to live.
The application is expected to be operational within the next few weeks. Watch upcoming e-newsletters for details.
NEWS AT A GLANCE
Industry Recognition for Public Works Director
Robyn Mattison, public works director/city engineer, was one of 14 young professionals recently highlighted in an industry publication,
Water and Wastewater Digest
. "The word 'pioneer' is an apt description for Robyn Mattison, who (was chosen as) the first female public works director in the state of Idaho in 2013," the article said.
Proposed Gas Station to Go Before P&Z on June 13
A proposal to construct a gas station, convenience store and food service establishment at 911 North Main St., across from the Knob Hill Inn, will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, June 13. Part of the existing buildings on the site housing Ketchum businesses would be demolished for the project, which calls for eight fueling stations.
Drawings, including landscaping plans
, are available at City Hall and also will be at the June 13 meeting. The site is in the light industrial-2 zone, and gas stations are allowed only through a conditional use permit (CUP). If the CUP is approved, the building and design must receive design review approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission. CUPs are discretionary and can be approved or denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Idaho Power to Present Redundant Line Plan
Idaho Power will present the proposed route for a second power line to provide back-up capability for service to the Wood River Valley at the City Council meeting Monday, June 6, at 5:30 p.m.
Warm Springs Requests 8-Year Extension
A request from Warm Springs Ranch Resort for an eight-year extension of its development agreement will go before City Council on June 20. The project received its initial approval in 2008 and has been given three extensions. It currently has permission to build 122 hotels rooms and 32 condominiums.
Traffic Signal Work Scheduled
Flaggers will direct traffic at 5th and Main streets on Monday and Tuesday, June 6-7, while the Idaho Transportation Department upgrades the traffic signal. Video detection equipment to trigger signal changes in accordance with traffic will be added, and ITD will upgrade the mechanism for the fire department remote control that changes the light for emergency vehicles.
Cell Phone Ban Signs Going Up
Signs alerting drivers to Ketchum's ban on using handheld devices while driving will soon be in place at the entrances to the city on Highway 75 and Sun Valley Road. Police will begin an educational campaign by issuing warnings to drivers seen violating the law. A $100 fine will be imposed after 12 months.
Good-By to Senior Planner Morgan Brim
Senior Planner Morgan Brim has resigned to become planning director of the town of Vineyard, Utah.
"Ketchum is a special city with a lot of great qualities. City employees are passionate about their jobs and really put their best foot forward in all they do," he said. "I have enjoyed getting to work on quality projects like the new hotels, mixed-use developments and updating zoning ordinances. On a personal level, the area has provided my family and me vast opportunities to enjoy wildlife, camp, fish, hunt, hike and ski. Every day was a new adventure! We will miss the people and amazing environment."
Splash Pad Opens Tomorrow
Bring the kids to Atkinson Park tomorrow for the season's opening of the Splash Park. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Beginning next weekend, the Splash Park will be open every day during those hours.
What Does It Take to Be a Firefighter?
Ketchum resident Jay Fitzgerald explored the world of firefighting for his senior project at the Community School. The family of a fellow student donated a vehicle, and Ketchum firefighters used it to demonstration techniques for extricating a victim. The fire department is continuing to use the vehicle for training, as it is unusual to receive newer vehicles for practice. Jay also learned about using air packs and the medical training necessary for today's firefighters.
How Much Snow Is Left?
Approximately 5 percent of nearby mountains are still covered with snow, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey earlier this week. Additional increases in stream flow may occur this week because of the warm weather this past weekend. Check links below for June 1 reports.
How to Find Open Hiking Trails
The Ketchum Ranger District recently changed the status of many trails in the region from closed to partially open. These partially open trails are open, but some have not been cleared yet. Others are inaccessible due to rushing creeks or are holding snow at higher elevations. Some area trails remain closed due to fire damage or because of other considerations, according to the Blaine County Recreation District. Check the BCRD
for more information.
Property Tax Deadline is June 20
The deadline for property tax payments is June 20.
The Blaine County Treasurer's Office will be open on Friday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with taking payments, as well as during the regularly scheduled hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, June 20. For questions, call 788-5530.
Property Assessments Are Out
Assessment notices have been mailed. You have the right to appeal prior to the deadline, which is no later than 6 p.m. on June 27. Questions? Contact the Blaine County Assessor's Office at 788-5535.
How to Create Beautiful Landscapes That Save Water, June 5, 8 and July 16
Ketchum is co-sponsoring a
series of workshops
to promote water-saving landscapes. Next in the series are "Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape" on Sunday, June 5, "7 Steps of Xeriscape Design" on Wednesday, June 8, and "Do-It-Yourself Steps to Saving Water" on Saturday, July 16. Co-sponsors are the cities of
Wood River Land Trust
Mayor's Radio Talks Resume on June 7
Mayor Nina Jonas talks about current city issues on
KDPI-FM Drop-in Radio
, 88.5 FM, after every City Council meeting. Her next appearance will be Tuesday, June 7, at noon.
Chip Sealing Scheduled for July 11-14
Summer chip sealing of streets is scheduled for July 11-14. Click
for schedule and locations.
Attend the next City Council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 6. City Council meetings are held on the first and third Mondays of each month in Ketchum City Hall. Click here to see the agenda and staff reports or scan the QR code.
Planning and Zoning Commission
Attend the next Planning and Zoning Commission meetings at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13. P&Z meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month in Ketchum City Hall. Click here for agendas and staff reports or scan the QR code.
If you cannot attend the Council or P&Z meetings and would like to express an opinion, please submit your comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input and engagement is encouraged. All comments will be reviewed.
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