Related topics

Plans for Stilson land could get a new look

March 13, 2019

Land at the intersection of Highways 22 and 390 is often discussed as a panacea for Teton County’s problems.

Everyone has a vision for the Stilson parcel: lacrosse fields; transit center; affordable housing. But for years plans for Stilson have gone nowhere.

Now the Teton County Board of County Commissioners says it wants to prioritize a plan.

“To me, this is an important site for a transit center,” Commissioner Luther Propst said at a Monday workshop. “Are we going to be under construction before the snow melts?”

The question solicited laughter.

Urgency for action on Stilson is something that’s been heard before from Teton County commissioners.

“The community’s been waiting for 20 years for us to make a move,” Commissioner Greg Epstein told the board at a July 2017 meeting. “I think it’s time for us to have the courage to step up to the plate.”

Still, progress has been slow. Teton County, the Teton Village Association and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort commissioned a 2015 master plan for the site, which imagined a rerouted START bus stop, day care, recycling facility and recreational fields.

After the board determined it didn’t have the money to move the plan forward, it sat dormant.

For awhile discussion of Stilson’s future was mired in legal questions about a 1997 agreement that governs summer maintenance of the facilities. That issue was further waylaid by another one — the potential of a middle school on the site. The county switched gears to explore a rezone of the property but decided to wait for the outcome of the school district’s planning process.

Now the 2015 plan needs a “refresh.” On Monday commissioners directed staff and stakeholders to re-evaluate the master plan and bring adjustments to the board.

“This is five years old,” Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Director Steve Ashworth said. “We have to look at what are the demographics of the moment, what has changed in the community?”

Propst has his eye on Stilson as a transit hub that includes amenities like electric vehicle charging stations and bike lockers, as well as a small coffee shop, housing or a parking structure.

Commissioner Mark Barron suggested workforce housing rentals as a consideration for the property.

But the commission isn’t the only one brimming with ideas for the site. A Parks and Recreation strategic plan adopted last fall calls for fields for adult programming at Stilson. START sees potential for the parking lot to serve as a center of a hub-and-spoke transit system, especially during the summer.

The property is owned by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort but managed by Teton Village Association, with about 8 acres granted to Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation for development of ball fields. Another 26.5 acres is held under an open-space easement.

“I’m glad to hear the commission is all on board now and hopefully we can work quickly to get it in place,” Teton Village Association Director Melissa Turley said.