Friday, October 23, 2020
Fourth Street Closure Elicits Positive Reviews
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

 Turning Ketchum’s 4th Street into a pedestrian zone between Atkinsons’ Market and Ketchum Town Square got the thumbs up from most of those who took part in a recent survey regarding closing the street.

The survey was launched at the city’s Feedback on 4th event on Sept. 2. Those being surveyed used a QR code on their smart phones for touchless access. And they got a free ice cream cone at Leroy’s for their efforts.

 The survey was also distributed via the city website and other means.

 The 365 respondents applauded the creation of an additional public outdoor gathering space and increased safety for bikes and pedestrians. The primary concern cited was traffic flow and circulation.

 More than half were “supportive” or “very supportive” for the concept of closing the street.

That said, they had some area of concerns. One said putting chairs and tables on asphalt was not attractive and suggested that the street should not be closed in winter when few people stroll the streets and there are no bicyclists. Another said that it encouraged cyclists to endanger pedestrians.

 “We had great participation in this survey and will continue to involve the public as we evaluate options and discuss next steps,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw. “I am delighted with the creative ideas we heard and the encouragement we received.”

 Closing the road to vehicles served more than just bicyclists and pedestrians this summer,” Bradshaw said: “With COVID, we need more space around us, so we used this opportunity to provide greater outdoor space for the community and visitors.”

 Not everyone has been supportive of the closing. Bigwood Square LLC and 440 East Inc., which own property along Fourth Street, filed a law suit ordering the city to reopen the street in July, claiming business had been disrupted and traffic congestion increased.

 One woman argued heatedly with the mayor as he and city officials fielded survey responses.

 Presentation boards at the event revealed the early ideas to utilize 4th Street as a place for pedestrians, dating back to Ketchum’s first Community Plan in 1975. Since then, creating a bicycle and pedestrian friendly downtown has remained a consistent community priority for Ketchum, as stated in the 2001 and 2014 comprehensive plans and the 2006 Downtown Master Plan.

 The city has taken steps toward the temporary 4th Street closure to vehicles. Among them, the creation of the 4th Street Heritage Corridor, Ketchum Town Square and the installation of walkable Ketchum wayfinding signs. The city gained support from the community for the temporary closure at its Fair on the Square in 2018 and 2019. That was augmented by the approval of the City Council.

 Walkability reinforces community, increases vibrancy, improves health and safety, is good for retail sales, creates character and builds sustainability, according to planning consultants who have addressed Sun Valley Economic Development summits and other gatherings.

 One recent success story is that of Caldwell, which has attracted scores of visitors who used to pass the city by with its Indian Creek area, which includes a walkway past beautifully landscaped waterways that are turned into an ice rink in winter.

 Fourth Street will close to bicycles and pedestrians at the end of the month.

 The full presentation and survey can be found at www.ketchumidaho.org/4thStreet.

 

 

 

 

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