YMCA petition demands election
Former mayor, others want vote on city
By GREGORY FOLEY
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
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
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