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Monday, June 9th – Recreation Plan passes with a dramatic 2:1 vote

Monday, June 9th – Recreation Plan passes with a dramatic 2:1 vote

Thanks to all of you who wrote letters and spoke in support of the Teton County Recreation & Public Access Master Plan, it was passed by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on a nail-biter of a 2:1 vote.
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Almost every seat was full at the courthouse. County RecPlan1Planning Administrator Jason Boal explained how the BOCC commissioned this Plan last year to coordinate existing recreation resources. It was crafted by a working group of 11 recreation based nonprofits, 12 private businesses, and 8 private entities; all of them currently own and maintain recreation facilities and/or run recreation programs in Teton Valley.

The public’s voice was loud and clear:

Ten letters were submitted from businesses and nonprofit organizations; all were in favor of the Plan. Six people spoke in support of the Plan:
RecPlan2Tim Adams Executive Director of Teton Valley Trails and Pathways: Talked about how this Plan helps nonprofits obtain grant money.

Dave Hensel, President of the Downtown Driggs Community Association: The Dig Driggs prospectus that the DDCA put together in partnership with VARD illustrates how the recreation lifestyle is the main reason why businesses move. “We are strongly in support of this.” RecPlan3

Shannon Hamby Teton Valley Foundation Board President: “We think it really represents the priorities of the communities. It’s a great framework for decision making and efficiency amongst valley organizations.”

Zach Smith, Mayor of Victor: “The city of Victor is 100% behind this. There are certain donors out there that have a lot of money and they give based on Plans just like this.”

Erica Linnell, Teton Valley Foundation Executive Director: The Plan is a valuable tool for leveraging private grant funds. If the ice arena can be finished for year-round use, it will bring in tournaments.

RecPlan4Anna Trentadue, Program Director and Staff Attorney from VARD: The Plan provides a clear road map for the future of recreation in Teton County, which enables business owners to Plan and make investments.

No one commented neutrally. Three people spoke in opposition, including, former County Commissioner Candidate Ron Moeller. He felt that the Teton Valley News’ semi-annual “Get Out” guide already provided plenty of recreation information.

Then, the deliberation:

Commissioner Kunz opened with his opposition:

“This Plan scares me. I’ve lived here my whole life. I learned to recreate myself. This master Plan can take it to places where I’m not ready to go. I’m in favor of supporting recreational opportunities through the county as we see fit.”
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Although the Plan made no reference to condemning private property, he stated that it did. “I don’t want anything to do with pressuring people to give up access. As far as right of way over private property – that’s an issue.” Then, shortly thereafter, reversed himself, “I’m all for maintaining public access points. I’m all for fighting for those until the day that I can’t.”

Commissioner Rinaldi reminded him that the Plan would help protect property rights, and recalled a private landowner whose property abutted a public access point that was often subjected to vandalism and trespassing, but the county lacked the funds to remediate the problem.

Rinaldi reminded them that they had commissioned and paid for this Plan in the first place. “We put the money in the budget to fund this. We cooperated with the cities to do that. We commissioned the Plan. And then to be done at the end, and provide no comments, and say that we’re not going to adopt it – now that would be a big waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Kunz interjected, “That wasn’t me.”

Rinaldi countered, “Plans aren’t scary. They are a tool. That’s what keeps government fair and predictable.”

Commissioner Park worried the Plan would raise taxes for seniors. Boal reminded him again that the formation of a recreation district was a totally independent question for the voters. Even if the BOCC were to decline to adopt this Plan, the voters could still vote to form a recreation district, anyway.

Kunz countered, “I guarantee you that this affects our seniors. I’m trying to protect them.”

At this point in time, Rick Baldwin (Driggs Planning & Zoning Commission) called out from the audience, “I’m a senior, and I’m not looking for your protection.”

After a long silence Park finally spoke. “I’m in favor of a recreation Plan, but I’ll haunt anybody that makes this affect our seniors at all.” And with that, he sighed, “I know I’m gonna catch heck for this” and then made the motion to adopt the Plan.

It passed 2:1 with Kunz voting against it.

What Happens Next?

It will now go to the three cities (Driggs, Victor, and Tetonia) for adoption. Public comment and participation in support of the Plan will be needed every step of the way! We will keep you posted when the city hearings are scheduled.

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