Outdoor recreation and the Wallace South Hill
The Shoshone New-Press published an article on March 12 about several, loose land use proposals presented to Wallace City Council pertaining to private property on a portion of Wallace’s “South Hill.” As the mayor of Wallace, I would like to voice a few of my concerns regarding the article and its depiction of my views on outdoor recreation.
To begin, I think the article inaccurately painted me as being against off-road, motorized recreation. I grew up in Wallace surrounded by wilderness and endless motorized and non-motorized trails. I am an avid outdoor enthusiast. I hunt, fish, hike, camp and mountain bike. I own a jeep, motorcycle and an ATV. I am not against responsible motorized recreation. Nor am I against the idea of creating additional, outdoor recreational opportunities around Wallace.
As the mayor and someone who represents the citizens of Wallace, however, it is my responsibility to consider the costs and burdens of any proposal on the taxpayers. It is also my duty to listen to my constituents, who are largely opposed to creating scenarios that will increase traffic and noise pollution near the city, negatively impact scenic views and/or place additional strain on our police and fire services. For those reasons, I believe that any new city parks should be located in flat areas in town that are accessible to everyone, not up steep hillsides.
Additionally, I have concerns about involving the city in private land purchases or BLM land swaps because of the potential costs to Wallace’s taxpayers. Besides the large costs for extensive land surveys and appraisals, a BLM land swap involves a federal agency and would require compliance with NEPA. The environmental studies required for NEPA compliance cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the costs of building access roads up steep hillsides to meet emergency vehicle and ADA requirements. Who is going to pay for these costs?
We are a small city with a small population base, and property taxes are already high. Right now, we are focused on fixing our beloved public swimming pool. I am always open to listening to any well-thought-out proposals that could benefit Wallace, provided they are accompanied by all necessary support documentation, including who is responsible for costs. Regardless of the situation or parties involved, my primary duty will always be to act in the best interest of the taxpayers.
Mayor of Wallace