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New City Hall Eliminates the Challenges of the Old
Monday, November 15, 2021


Lisa Enourato no longer needs to go outside to go downstairs to go back inside, as she did in Ketchum’s former city hall.

Nor does she need to turn on the light on her iPhone to navigate the stairs as she leaves in the winter dark.

Ketchum’s new city hall offers a measure of safety and comfort that Enourato and her colleagues did not enjoy at the 1970s car dealership that had been converted into a city hall, police department and fire station across from Atkinsons’ Market.

“I was there for 12 years and I was used to hearing the wind blow through the building,” said Enourato, Ketchum’s public affairs and administrative services manager. “There was air conditioning at one end, and we’d roast in 100-degree temperatures in the other. And, whenever an older person had to climb to the second floor to visit office staff, I’d always pretend I had to go downstairs when they’d leave so I could walk them down.”

There’ll be no need for that in the new city hall at 191 Fifth Street W. across from La Cabanita restaurant and down the street from the Ketchum Post Office.

Office workers have plenty of elbow room in spacious brightly lit offices, instead of being crammed practically on top of each other. Police officers are thrilled to have windows to look out, instead of being crammed in spaces resembling large closets.

The city bought the 11,246-square-foot building, which formerly housed medical clinics, in 2018 for $3.1 million. It spent the past year remodeling the building.

The first floor includes a reception area, police offices, conference room and public meeting room where city council business is conducted.

The lobby features a bronze bench created by the late Ketchum sculptor Rod Kagen. Etched glass pieces sunk in the wall were commissioned by the Ketchum Arts Commission and placed along Warm Springs Road. But they interfered with snow removal and went largely unnoticed by passersby. So, they were given a new place at city hall.

The new council chamber is about the same size as the older one but has a better layout and, once the pandemic is over, it will be able to seat about 42 people—more than the old one, said Enourato. Six screens will allow both city council members and attendees to watch livestream presentations.

And the Zoom technology has been substantially improved.  

“We had a lack of technology in the old building so it was hard providing Zoom sessions when COVID started. Now we can push a couple buttons and Zoom!” said Enourato, who was the project manager for the move, along with Jay Riley.

“Before, if someone wanted to make comments, there was all kinds of feedback and no one could hear,” she added. “That’s no longer a problem.”

The second floor holds offices for the mayor, city planners, administration, building departments and planning and zoning, along with a smaller meeting room. Having everyone on the same floor will allow   better communication between co-workers and departments, Enourato said. And there is space for workspaces in the hallway where employees can collaborate.

The city’s two community service officers occupy the third floor, along with a small kitchen facility and an outdoor patio looking out onto Bald Mountain that can be used for open houses or receptions. And the basement contains rooms for special events supplies, clerk records, a secure room for police storage, computer equipment, locker room and evidence room.

Currently, pieces of paper marked with Magic Marker hang on doors identifying the various rooms. But the community meeting rooms, which will eventually be available for public use, have already been christened with such names as Trail Creek Room and Big Wood Room.

And there are showers in three of the bathrooms for those who cycle to work.

“The best thing is that the new building is ADA accessible so we can invite all of the pubic in,” said Enourato. “We have an elevator that lets those in wheelchairs access all the offices—something they couldn’t do at the old building.”

Heated pavers line the building on the First Street side, which offers handicapped parking and parking for police. City staff are asked to park across Second Street near the Simplot lot in blocks stretching from Fifth Street to Seventh streets.

The city has 50 employees, including wastewater, streets department and park and recreation employees, who are based in other buildings. Seventeen currently occupy the new City Hall.

Enourato says the new building offers not only a more comfortable climate but a more professional atmosphere.

“I think we all feel more inspired,” she said.

The former city hall is expected to be demolished so that the Ketchum Community Development Corp. and a Seattle-based developer can build a 51-unit workforce-housing project called Bluebird Village. The city has yet to sign off on a lease to KCDC, which would allow that project to go forward.


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