Regardless of how you felt about the controversial SkiLink proposal to connect Canyons Resort with Solitude, the debate was a great catalyst for further discussion about long range planning. And, even though that specific project seems to have been removed from the negotiating table, the next development proposal is probably right around the corner.

To prepare for that inevitability, and to address the ever-accelerating impact of population growth on the central Wasatch Mountains, a number of public agencies are working together on a regional transportation plan dubbed Mountain Accord. The group includes representatives from Summit, Wasatch and Salt Lake Counties as well as Park City, SkiUtah, Save Our Canyons, the Utah Dept. of Transportation and others.

The effort is in its early stage during which there will be several public meetings to gather overall concerns and ideas about development, preservation, transportation and recreation. The ultimate goal is to agree on an overall plan to help mitigate conflicts.

One of those hearings is coming up this week and will be held in Park City so there is no excuse not to attend.

Think of it as a giant whiteboard with lots of space for your input. According to a fact sheet posted on www.mountainaccord.com this first phase, which will take about a year, will consider all of the 'what ifs.


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' Those questions include: what if we keep growing at the current rate and what if the economy keeps surging and development picks up at its old pre-recession pace.

Toward the end of the first year, Mountain Accord leaders hope to have enough information to draw up a list of scenarios that attempt to balance needs for sustained economic development alongside environmental stewardship.

Phase Two will be devoted to hammering out a preferred scenario and beginning to find ways to implement it.

It is essential to ensure the first phase includes stakeholders from every interest group. The outcome will only be as good as the input the committee receives starting next week.

It is a good bet the Wasatch Mountains are the main reason why most local residents choose to make Summit County their home. This is their chance to ensure that essential backdrop continues to enhance their lifestyle. Whether their priorities are finding efficient transportation to work, preserving the alpine setting or expanding recreation opportunities, now is the time to speak out.

The Mountain Accord public scoping meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Boulevard in Park City.

A second meeting is also scheduled next week on Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Skyline High School, 3251 East, 3760 South in Salt Lake City.

For more information and to keep abreast of the plan as it moves forward go to: www.mountainaccord.com/