We’d like to know…

The new online poll in the Jackson Hole News&Guide is asking what you would like to see a possible future SPET go toward.

With a general excise tax shot down in November now off the table, a Community Priorities Fund is still in need of actual funding. Will this come from SPET, or would you rather see something else done with your tax dollars? Or would you vote not to reinstate SPET at all?

The special purpose excise tax is scheduled to terminate sometime around April/May 2017 at the current rate of sales tax collection. Citizens of Teton County will likely be asked to vote on whether they want new SPET ballot items to pick up again next summer.

Check out the poll and add your two cents. (Well, actually, you would be adding your one cent if you vote for SPET again.)

I want to vote!


Gilding the Lily

We’re passing along this fantastic letter to your elected leaders from former SHJH director and now board member Armond Acri.  It’s concerning the proposed North Cache Wildlife Viewing Platform, which was up for final approval on December 19 and, in fact, did pass on a 4-1 vote with councilman Jim Stanford opposed.
The artwork has rankled some on a number of fronts from “wrong concept” to “wrong place.” Given that the exhibit would be incorporated within the Murie Family Park, we were very interested in hearing what the surviving members of the Murie family think about it. And they don’t like it.

We refer to our favorite response here from Jan O. Murie:

“Only recently did I learn of the proposal to build a boardwalk in the park on North Cache and saw the artist’s rendition of the project. Although I am ordinarily sympathetic to public art projects, this one is an unnecessary intrusion in a park that serves as an oasis in the hurly-burly of downtown Jackson. The views from this park are already attractive and provide a suitably low key approach for people to view the wildlife occupying the adjacent marshland. The presence ofthe raised boardwalk does not enhance the aesthetic nature of the park.

My objection to the project as currently outlined is based primarily on two issues. Most important is the potentially adverse effect the raised structure and increased visitation could have on the animals in the marsh particularly nesting birds. That issue requires a detailed evaluation before any such project is approved.

Secondarily, since the park was named for the Murie family, it seems entirely inappropriate to build any sort of elaborate structures within it that clashes so harshly with their minimalist approach to interacting with nature. My cousin Donald has expressed this point well in his letter to you, so I won’t belabor it here as I think it well reflects the views of our extended family.

I urge you to not approve this project as currently outlined. If some improvements to the park are deemed necessary, please make them less intrusive and more in keeping with the values of those for whom the park was named.”


Here is Armond’s letter:

Mayor Flitner and member of Town Council,

I will be unable to attend your meeting on Monday to comment on the proposed Wildlife Platform because I will be in transit to visit family for Christmas. As you begin your meeting I should be crossing the border from Wyoming into Nebraska, but I will be thinking about this project and what is best for our community.

I hope you will honor the request by the Murie family to take more time to evaluate this project. There are many unanswered questions about the impact on wildlife. The size of the project does not seem appropriate for the location.

My biggest concern however is that there is a good possibility that this project will be torn down in 2-3 years to accommodate a new visitor center. That is not a responsible use of tax dollars. I would ask that you delay this project until it is clear that it is not necessary to tear down or relocate this project. Pushing forward a project of this size and then tearing it down in 2 or 3 years will undermine confidence in the ability of the Town Council to manage our tax money. It might also result in a major backlash against public art.

Let’s take our time and make a good decision wildlife and our citizens can live with. Please do not waste our tax dollars. Thank you and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Armond Acri Jackson, WY

Town explores renter protection laws

Plans to explore some kind of renter’s protection in Jackson Hole are underway. Mayor-elect Pete Muldoon is leading the charge to try to see how the town can get involved through ordinance or other methods of drawing up laws that could cap rents or provide more recourses for tenants when dealing with property-owning landlords. While SHJH is troubled by landlords who abuse their tenants, we believe adequate recourses are available to renters currently under state statute and any additional laws enacted to “protect” renters could actually harm landlords.


SHJH recently participated in an article by Planet Jackson Hole. Our quotes are highlighted here:


There have been several vocal opponents to perceived expansion of local government. One of the more prominent groups is Save Historic Jackson Hole. However, even SHJH is alarmed by news of some local rental practices.

SHJH’s Jake Nichols stated in an email that the organization is generally opposed to renter protections and they feel state statutes offer enough protection for both owners and renters.

However, SHJH is troubled by isolated incidents of unfair evictions, subpar, unhealthy or unsafe living conditions, or fear of retaliation for repair requests. Nichols reminded that landlords can be “victims of inconsiderate renters who bolt from their agreements or cause damage to property that is ultimately the owner’s responsibility.” A lease is beneficial for all parties, he added, and rental caps are acceptable for government subsidized and government provided housing.

Hidden Cost: dense neighborhood headed for Jackson

Hidden Hollow moved forward this week when the town council approved the sketch plan for the 168-unit residential neighborhood on Monday.


Hidden Hollow is a proposed development for the former Forest Service property on North Cache. The Hansen brothers from Idaho Falls—who also own Bischoff in Jackson—purchased the 10-acre parcel last year. The property was also rezoned in 2015 to Urban Residential.

The proposed project consists of 13 detached single family units, 20 attached single family units (townhomes) and 135 attached single family units (condominiums) or apartments within 5 buildings.

The Good

The Hansen Brothers seem truly committed to developing something that they feel is sorely needed in this community: housing. They plan to take advantage incentives provided through the revamped PUD tool that will put 45 deed-restricted (in addition to the 27 employee housing units they will build) in exchange for the right to build up to 48 feet high. This project will house a good many people that are currently unable to find anything in the valley. A good mix of rental and ownership units will provide some relief for the housing crunch and do so on the back of the private sector.

The Bad

This is a massive neighborhood; the biggest since Cottonwood. At 168 units, it is large and dense. Town staff have worked the spreadsheet out at 16.8 units per acre (figuring the property at 10 acres) but the fact is less than 70% of that land is buildable. The rest is wetlands abutting the Elk Refuge. So the development is very dense.

Traffic will be a major issue. Development reps estimate an additional 1,200-plus trips will be generated in and out of their every day. That number seems low. Mercill will be slammed.

Environmental impacts to the sensitive wetlands area will also be significant.

Vigilant Monitoring

Save Historic Jackson Hole will be watching this project closely. The impacts are numerous. Many are clamoring for housing it’s true. This development will house many and do it without government funding. But at what cost to our quality of life? The town, the valley, is near capacity if not at capacity. Shoving an additional 588 people (168 units x 3.5 average occupants) into downtown Jackson is a scary proposition. Will our infrastructure be able to handle it? Sewer/water, roads, calls for service to first responders?

What are your thoughts? Do we need housing that bad? Can we fix a problem without creating two or three more? We can’t turn back time and return to a quieter, simpler Jackson we all remember, but do we need to rush headlong into a future Jackson that looks like Idaho Falls?