A public review process begins this week for a complex project along the Snake River that would ultimately reopen Astoria Hot Springs to the public as part of a 100-acre park.
The deal involves transferring development rights from the property where the hot springs are located to the Snake River Sporting Club, located farther south down the river.
Town planning and zoning commissioners are first up to review the proposal and will make recommendations at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.
For the last two years, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land has been working on the deal, which involves two property owners.
The hot springs are located 16 miles south of Jackson on property bought two years ago by New York real estate entity Northlight Trust.
The area was operated for more than four decades as a campground and pool. Legions of Teton County youth learned to swim in the pool, but it was closed in 1999.
The proposal now on the table involves transferring 100,000 square feet of development rights from that parcel, located just over the bright red bridge by the Astoria boat ramp.
The development potential would be moved farther south to land owned by the long-beleaguered Snake River Sporting Club, formerly known as the Canyon Club.
“The applicants are very focused on restoring public access to the hot springs,” Teton County staff planner Shawn Means said.
“They see moving development around as a mechanism to make that happen.”
A secondary goal is to consolidate development around the golf course, she said.
Still, questions remain about whether the development rights approved for the Northlight property in the 1990s are still valid.
In general, development right approvals can expire if they aren’t used within a certain time line, Means said. Properties involved with the deal have been part of bankruptcies in the past, and the status of the entitlements remains unclear. Elected officials could weigh in on the issue.
The area around the hot springs is governed by a special resort district. The proposal would result in breaking up the resort district into two separate areas.
The actual acreage of the district would shrink, but the amount of development potential would remain the same.
It would just be relocated near the Sporting Club’s 18-hole golf course, away from the hot springs.
Chris Deming, senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land Northern Rockies office, could not be reached for comment Monday.
But he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide last year that future development around the hot springs would have the waters flowing through a series of small, private pools that he described as “soaking pools.”
The aim is to “keep infrastructure minimal,” he said at the time.
The old hot springs filled a swimming pool.
If everything goes according to the plan, the Trust for Public Land will need to raise money to purchase the land from Northlight, according to Deming’s comments from last year.
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land “creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come,” according to its website.