January 25, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Dissecting Paradise 

Ketchum, Idaho works to involve community in Comprehensive Plan

Sun Valley Day Lodge
  • Sun Valley Day Lodge

Page 3 of 4

The city started with a kick-off event – "Make a Difference" – whereby 200 participants took part in individual and small group activities which traced Ketchum’s history, suggested milestones for the future and worked towards consensus on which issues ought to be addressed in the new Comprehensive Plan.

The next effort involved reaching out to constituents by setting up "Listening Posts." This involved the city setting up office at popular meeting spots to gather input from people too busy to attend a meeting. The initiative clearly respected that if a city really wants input, there are times when it must get out and pursue it.

The creative public input sessions then turned to entertainment with the First Street Fairs. The two fairs in downtown Ketchum provided an opportunity for the city to simulate certain improvements during the events, while also an opportunity to participate in social and commercial activities.

Following the series of public outreach sessions monthly policy forums were held to stimulate discussion on certain issues. The Draft Plan was released at the second First Street Fair, where the community could comment. A more detailed analysis followed when the draft was considered at weekly planning commission meetings. The planning commission conducted 20 public hearings on the plan, followed by city council’s statutory meetings, held prior to adoption.

The city also put effort into ensuring strong and diversified attendance at the forums. In addition to radio campaigns and flyers, the city initiated newspaper ads that rejected the traditional bureaucratic rhetoric in favour of catchy cartoons that poked fun and added light to the difficult process. Meeting venues varied from street corners to the luxurious River Run Lodge (Sun Valley Resort’s base lodge), and provided food to ensure that participants would remain involved. Horowitz indicated that the most successful meetings were those which abandoned the "public hearing format" and encouraged small discussion groups.

At the end of the process 130 pieces of written correspondence were received. Although the planning process carried on too long, the time was well spent as Ketchum now has a truly comprehensive plan that sets out the city’s course for the future.



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