The Connectivity Action team held their meeting on April 27, and folks had some big ideas at this meeting!
Of course, ideas can only become reality if the rest of the community subscribes to them. Finding out how the community at large sees this issue will therefore be the charter for the coming month(s), but here is at least an overview of the current thoughts.
Meeting subject: Cascade road structure east of Hwy 55
The specific issue for the meeting was to brainstorm a road structure east of highway 55 such that visitors of Kelly White Water Park are not lost to the community’s economy, but are encouraged to stay and help the local economy. The current (only) entrance from south-of-town forces visitors to get back into their car as opposed to explore town, and thus inhibits economic spillover.
Piggy-backing onto ITD
The idea behind brainstorming a road structure was to piggy-back onto the desire of ITD (Idaho Transportation) to create a secondary path through or by Cascade, and propose ideas that works both for ITD and Cascade. If the Cascade community can come up with a workable solution for ITD, and convince current landowners of its economic merit then the cost of road construction can potentially be born by ITD and implementation be much faster. That would be far preferable over getting a solution dictated by ITD that may not work so well for Cascade. Dan Davis had presented “food for thought” at the last meeting, where he showed possible north-south routes east of 55 (see attached pdf). This meeting elaborated on some of those ideas.
So what were some of the big ideas that folks came up with? To discuss that, we have to understand the earlier discussion that the group had:
Integrate KWP with town
In order to truly benefit from KWP, visitors should be encouraged to explore town without getting back into their car, be it through nearby shops or restaurants, a nice walkway, or other amenities. However, these shops and/or amenities have little chance of survival outside of the tourist season unless they can also benefit from the residents of Cascade. So this argues for creating a land-use and road structure that takes KWP out of its isolation and somehow integrates it with the rest of town.
The chicken and egg problem for connectivity
In order for KWP to help Cascade economically, it needs to be connected (previous point). The current downtown, however, is so far away from KWP that it would take a lot of development to connect the two; so much development that the current population of Cascade could never support that unless it sees substantial growth. In order to grow, however, Cascade needs to take advantage of its amenities, namely KWP, the rail road, the lake and Cascade’s gateway location. And now we are back to square one: to better take advantage of them, and have the economic spillover, the amenities need to be better integrated with the town – there is our conundrum, our chicken and egg problem.
Armed with these two insights, the meeting brainstormed solutions like the following:
A “midway station”
Can we create a nucleus, or allow for development, somewhere midway between KWP and town? This would help further development and allow KWP and the town to grow together over time — a small start allowed to grow outward and gradually fill the gaps with future growth of Cascade. That growth could potentiall include some residential development in the area between KWP and highway 55. This could help support shops and amenities in the off-season (retail follows roofs).
One of the suggestions at the meeting was to create a depot station on the railway somewhere near KWP. This would be a station in addition to the existing end-station at the Ashley Inn. This new train station would serve White Water enthusiasts to transport them and their gear from either Cabarton bridge or Smith’s ferry. At the same time, this depot would encourage some initial development not too far from either KWP or town.
Other discussions that took place was on how KWP, the fair grounds and downtown could share event parking and how best to use the available land to do so. Some of the ideas and suggestions were quite creative and also addressed the issue that the current (and expected) land-deeds of the old mill-site and surroundings will not allow for residential development because of possible soil contamination. These ideas went from as simple as exploring brownfield development grants to complex constructions like joint ventures or long term lease options with Office Max, or even land-swaps – all focused on optimal land use between KWP and hwy 55. All ideas will require more in-depth analysis, since none would work if they did not present a win-win for current owners and community.
These were some very big ideas, with big consequences for town, current land-owners, county and city. Not only do any such plans require the support of land-owners, city and county, it first needs support of the the Cascade community: after all, these ideas can fundamentally change how Cascade looks like 20-30 years from now.
The meeting was therefore adjourned, setting the next meeting date on May 25, 6pm at the extension office.Follow-up from this meeting:
Dan Davis would replot his maps to show how these thoughts would change the road-plan for the area;
- Dwight was going to think about how a land-use swap or some joint venture or lease idea could be constructed such that all stakeholders (community and land-owners) can benefit;
- If opportune, Larry would see if Borbonus has any developed plans in mind for his land and if so, how these ideas about connectivity could be compatible with his plans.
- Pat would evaluate how the current strategy of the rec-center could (bene)fit these ideas and vice versa.
- Everybody would contemplate the next steps: i.e. how discuss these ideas with a broader community representation; how to make this a win-win for all stakeholders and community
Dan Davis, Dwight Jividen, Pat and Patty Cowl, David Gilmore, Larry Brown,
Brett Spangenberg and Vim Braak;
Absent team members:
Dick Carter and Mike Stanger