Taming the Wild
Why the Wood River Valley is One Big Public Space.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cody Doucette
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It wasn’t long before the Pilaros raised enough funds, through letters to the community and by cold-calling local businesses, to pay for half the park’s costs. The city of Hailey agreed to pay the other half, as well as maintenance fees, which meant installing plants, flowers, benches and grass, and building an interactive water fountain.
“There’s noise here, but it’s all happy sounds,” Pilaro says. “It gives kids a place to cool off in the water on hot days; the only other places in Hailey are the public pool or the river.
Jimmy’s Garden in Hailey is a park that grew out of an “old hippie’s” love for children.
“I think parks in general give people a feeling that they live in a nice town where they have places to go. It enhances the quality of life. Instead of having a town full of strip malls using every available space, some space has been set aside for pure enjoyment.”
And while it helps to dedicate a space to someone’s memory, whether through raising funds for a project, or determining how that project will look, many public spaces are designed and funded with the nourishment of the general public in mind.
“Giving money is a very private thing for many donors,” says Hallie Kelly, a development associate for the Wood River YMCA. One thing that makes the Y unique, she says, is that major donors can direct exactly how they want their money spent.
When the building finally opened, the Y wasn’t just a gym, but had an office space, a sound studio, a video editing studio and several learning centers designated for children of various ages. For instance, the donor of the Y’s toddler room directed that all materials used in building and finishing that room, including the air, be non-toxic and clean, right down to the shiny paint.
“It gets a person involved in the process and that allows them to take ownership of it and remain invested in it,” Kelly says of the donor’s dedication. “It also brings in different ideas. Hearing different suggestions and ideas makes the Y a more interesting space.
“It isn’t just a gym, it’s a place where people can sit and talk. It’s a community space,” Kelly says. While it is often difficult for communities to provide minors with activities that aren’t just productive, but activities in which they’ll want to participate, she says, the same can be said of adults. For some, after dinner and maybe a movie, the last place left to meet is the watering hole.
“There aren’t that many places for adults, either, so it’s important for this community to have a space like this,” Kelly says. >>>