The three Jackson town councilors in attendance for Monday night’s council meeting unanimously voted to make the requisite moves to apply for a grant that would largely fund a practical art installation of donated Snow King Summit Lift chairs along the Cache Street corridor.
Though Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson and Councilor Jim Rooks were absent and unable to attend virtually — as Councilor Jessica Sell Chambers did — the three remaining council members represented a quorum and voted to approve the needed resolution for a grant and hold a necessary public hearing on the matter.
Assistant Public Works Director Johnny Ziem presented the idea for the “placemaking project” to the council. It would involve a partnership between Snow King Mountain Resort, which donated around 30 chairs from its recently retired Summit Lift, Jackson Hole Public Art, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and the town’s Public Works Department to install a series of the donated two-seat chairs along Cache Street. Each chair would be functional as either a fixed bench or some sort of swing, Ziem said.
“So it’s a really good team, and it’s a really good project; it’s a unique project,” Ziem told the council at the meeting.
When discussing the project with the News&Guide late last week, Ziem said the project and partnership are not run-of-the-mill for him and his public works team, and that it’s both a refreshing change of pace and exciting to participate in something that could add character to an already character-rich town.
As envisioned, some chairs would be painted in various colors, while others might have plaques or engravings to commemorate their history. They would line the Cache Street corridor from Snow King to possibly as far as north of Town Square, Ziem said. Snow King officials would even support some of the chairs running up onto the “Town Hill” to the south of Snow King Avenue.
Vice Mayor Arne Jorgensen, who led the meeting in Mayor Morton Levinson’s absence, and councilors Chambers and Jonathan Schechter all supported the partnership presented by Ziem for the proposed installation.
The time frame to apply for the Wyoming Business Council grant is short, though; Ziem said it needs to be submitted by Sept. 1. Otherwise the partnership would have to wait until December for the next grant cycle. The town and its partners are requesting $100,000 from the Business Council, according to a staff report, with the total cost of the project projected at around $169,000. The balance is planned to be covered by private donations, other grants and potential sponsorship of chairs by local businesses that might want one located outside or near their operation.
Chamber President Anna Olson said the maximum request for this grant is $500,000 and that the partnership is “asking for a very reasonable amount” in order to help make the project a reality. There is a 20% match for the grant, Ziem explained, half of which must be received upfront in cash.
“I call this my happy project,” Olson said. “It really is the right time at the right place.”
Snow King Mountain Resort General Manager Ryan Stanley said, “We’re happy to support the project and we appreciate all the entities,” adding that Snow King “will definitely pay for the work of the chairs that can be installed up on [Snow King].”
Councilors expressed their excitement about the project. Schechter, who made the motion in favor of the resolution — seconded by Chambers and passed unanimously by the three councilors — thanked Ziem and the rest of the partners, calling it “a great project.”
Before the vote, Vice Mayor Jorgensen said that he would request that each of the chairs, whether turned into benches or swings, be accessible to all, regardless of age or physical abilities.
“I very much look forward to this respecting our town’s connection to our Town Hill, and celebrating that connection,” he added.