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Wednesday, July 28, 2004


YMCA petition demands election

Former mayor, others want vote on city funding

Express Staff Writer

A citizen petition demanding that Ketchum leaders seek voter approval of any plan to fund or convey public land to the proposed Wood River Community YMCA was completed and formally filed at City Hall this week.

Larry Young, a former mayor of Ketchum, said Monday that he issued to city officials a completed "initiative petition" demanding that the city adhere to a February 2003 resolution that outlines policies for supporting the proposed YMCA.

"It’s a procedural initiative," Young said Monday. "It’s an attempt to get a vote … It’s not an attempt to say you should vote for or against the YMCA."

The petition essentially requests that city legislators enact a new ordinance that mandates the city gain approval from a majority of voters before providing land for the YMCA or following through on a plan to confer $3 million in public funds to support the project.

Young initiated the petition process last month. To complete the process, he was allowed 60 days to submit the signatures of 128 registered voters—20 percent of the Ketchum electorate—in support of the petition.

Young said the petition was filed with the signatures of nearly 200 people believed to be registered voters in Ketchum.

"Part of the reason we wanted to do this as quickly as we could … is to get on the ballot as soon as we can," he said.

Sandy Cady, Ketchum city clerk, said she intends to verify the signatures by the end of the week.

If at least 128 of the signatures are verified as those of registered Ketchum voters, the City Council will be provided 30 days to adopt the proposed ordinance. If legislators do not do so, a special election to consider the language in the ordinance must be conducted.

In this case, a special election would almost certainly be planned to take place with the Nov. 2 general election.

At the core of the issue is public funding for the YMCA’s $16 million recreational complex and community center proposed for a section of the city-owned Park and Ride Lot, north of downtown.

In February 2003, the Ketchum City Council approved a resolution to "match the initial $3 million of charitable pledges by timely seeking city voter approval of a revenue bond in the amount $3 million."

The city resolution also declared that "a portion of the Park and Ride property is reserved to the Wood River Y" and could be leased to the organization for $1 per year.

Last spring, council members considered a plan that would fund the YMCA without first seeking voter approval but eventually agreed that the city should seek to honor the terms of its 2003 resolution. Although Young’s petition specifically demands that the city conform to the 2003 resolution, it also outlines some new policies to govern city support of the YMCA project.

In addition to demanding a vote to approve city support of the YMCA, it would prohibit any contract that would outsource city recreation services to the YMCA and declare that the city will not "be responsible" for the operating costs of the YMCA.

Mayor Ed Simon said he believes the matter will ultimately be decided by Ketchum citizens.

"I sense it’s going to go to a vote," he said.


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