Island Park petition calls for public gathering space for community events - East Idaho News

Island Park petition calls for public gathering space for community events

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ISLAND PARK – An Island Park committee is hoping to get an initiative on the ballot in May.

Over the last year, committee members have met with organizations to drum up support for the Island Park Community Auditorium District and they started collecting signatures from registered voters last month for a petition.

Eighty-five signatures are needed for a ballot initiative and as of Monday, committee member Ron Folsom tells they’ve collected 125 signatures.

The next step is for the Fremont County Election Office to certify the signatures before a District judge authorizes the election. The judge would set the date of the election but the petition requests a vote in May 2023.

The proposed auditorium district includes the area north of Ashton Hill to the Clark County boundary in Yellowstone National Park and Montana. Details about construction, including the size of the building, its exact location and cost will be determined once the petition has been approved.

Folsom says the lack of space for a community gathering place has been an unmet need for many years and that’s what put this project in motion.

“Every time you go to a community meeting, the subject comes up and people say we need a place to do this, a place where people can come,” Folsom explains.

One event most often brought up is a place to hold a wedding, Folsom says. Though the Marriott Springhill Suites has an event center, Folsom says it isn’t ideally suited for what most people want.

“It’s just a meeting room. They rent it out and decorate it and have a beautiful river there. Staff allow you to get married on the patio but they can’t close it off because it’s waterfront property that belongs to the people,” says Folsom. “So, you could be getting married and five kayakers could walk behind you when you’re taking pictures.”

Many people want a private space for an event like this.

But the venue wouldn’t just be for weddings. The auditorium district’s website outlines a space for a sports facility, entertainment center and kitchen facilities to improve catering possibilities for restaurants.

“We have restaurants up here that will cater but can’t do it without closing their business down. But they could cater if they had a place to cook besides their kitchen. Nobody’s kitchen up here is built to do catering and serve the food that they have,” Folsom says.

Other amenities include an information/visitor center for the Island Park Chamber of Commerce and historical society, a metting/convention/special event space, office space, senior center, food pantry, conference room and public restrooms.

Idaho law allows auditorium districts to collect up to 5% in lodging taxes paid by tourists who visit the area. This tax would be implemented if voters approve the ballot initiative with a simple majority.

“Once it’s built, we expect that the tax will likely come down, depending on what the community feels about the need,” he says.

Visit the website for additional information.