By Steve Stuebner
Vice President, VC Pathways


Steve and Cindy Jones enjoy the wetlands pond next to the North Valley Rail-Trail.

Community leaders in Cascade, Donnelly, McCall and New Meadows have been working together over the last year or so to create a winning community revitalization plan and strategy in the America’s Best Communities national competition.

Recently, the newly branded “West Central Mountains” region — “Idaho’s Adventure Corridor” — was named one of eight finalists in the ABC competition, also winning a $100,000 cash prize to work on its 21-point plan to enhance and revitalize our communities. At stake is a $3 million
grand prize.

“Collectively, we believe in a future where the best of what we enjoy today is carefully blended with year-round jobs, increased prosperity, and endless opportunity,” Valley County/Meadows Valley community leaders wrote in their visionary plan. “Our intent is not to reinvent our area but to effectively build upon what makes our community so desirable. We have the essential ingredients, momentum, determination and vision to become America’s Best Community.”

We say “bravo!” to that!

Now, the West Central Mountains ABC team is embarking on a number of initiatives to fulfill the vision of their 21-point plan. These initiatives include:

  • Creating new jobs.
  • Improving housing options for low-income families.
  • Enhancing streets, highways and transportation infrastructure.
  • Improving education, cultural opportunities and recreational opportunities.
  • Enhancing health and wellness.

Near N end of Strand

Under the category of enhancing recreation opportunities, a top priority is to update the Master Plan for Valley County Pathways to include a public pathway corridor connecting from northwest McCall to New Meadows. If this corridor could be developed, it’d be possible to connect Valley County trails to the 84-mile Weiser River Trail. That’d be huge!

At the same time, VCP will incorporate the updated pathways plans that have been completed in Cascade, Donnelly and McCall, so we can organize all of our pathway visions into one planning document. This goal dovetails with the strategy of the West Central Mountains ABC plan.

Another top priority is to create a new recreation district in the northern half of Valley County that could raise sufficient funds on an annual basis to build new recreation facilities and develop and maintain new trail systems for hiking, biking and motorized activities.

Efforts to create the West Central Mountains Park and Recreation District are under way. The boundaries for the recreation district would be the same as the McCall-Donnelly School District. The first step is to gather enough signatures of local voters to put a recreation district on the November ballot. Backers have selected a .0006 tax levi that would raise approximately $1.8 million per year. The tax impact for property with $100,000 in assessed value would be $60 per year.

Andy at North Valley Trailhead on HeinrichAll of us at Valley County Pathways think the creation of a recreation district is a GREAT idea — to generate enough funds on an annual basis to actually create new recreational assets and amenities in our communities, and do a better job of maintaining what we have. The recreation district concept is also backed by the ABC campaign, the Valley County Economic Development Council and Valley County Commissioners.

Personally, I have had the most hands-on experience with Blaine County Recreation District, which provides broad-based recreation in the Wood River Valley for all ages and diverse recreation programs. BCRD was responsible for paving the Wood River bike path that extends from Ketchum to Bellevue. It operates a wonderful world-class cross-country ski trail system, and oodles of other recreation programs.

The bottom line, in my view, is if you create a stable source of income to maintain and enhance recreation facilities, you have a long-term sustainable recreation program. That’s what we need in Valley County/Meadows Valley.

Please stop by the Idaho First Bank next to Ridleys to sign a petition to get the recreation district on the ballot or look for petition sheets at local recreation stores, businesses and real estate offices.

FYI: The leaders of the recreation district campaign are Barrett Lamm, a CPA with Lamm CPA, [email protected], Joey Pietri, an athletic trainer at Legend Crossfit, [email protected] or Sherry Maupin, VP Branch Manager, Idaho First Bank in McCall.

Also FYI: Here’s a link to the Economic Development Strategy for the West Central Mountains region.


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