Planning and managing future growth and development can be very difficult, especially when it involves the interrelationship of different jurisdictions. That's the goal of the Greater Park City Compact, a joint effort on the part of Park City and Summit County to collaboratively tackle a slew of issues, from open space to the economy.
On Tuesday, July 30, the City and County Councils met together in session to begin the initial dialogue about the compact. The plan includes 10 main points, but the meeting focused on five in particular: open space, environment, community design, transportation and the economy.
"It's a commitment on our part to work together and be more strategic and proactive to the challenges that we face," said Park City Council member Andy Beerman.
Beerman remarked that the city and the county have already been working together on open space and transportation issues, which he says they have had success with in the past. New areas like community growth, he said, help to think about how the parties want to "channel growth."
Summit County, Beerman says, is more focused on fighting sprawl, while Park City has to deal more with infill and redevelopment.
"Growth in either area impacts the other," Beerman said. "We're making a commitment towards nodal growth, clustering densities whenever possible, commercial and residential."
Summit County Council member Chris Robinson says he considers the 'greater Park City area' to be Park City, the unincorporated Snyderville Basin and adjacent areas in Summit and Wasatch Counties.
The issue of transportation was fleshed out in further detail at the meeting, and the primary focus was on making the transportation system of the area "multi-modal," meaning that reliance on the individual automobile will be downplayed to the increase of modes such as walking, biking and public transit.
Beerman said that a regional transportation plan is in the works that could connect the Wasatch Front with the Wasatch Back via a light-rail system. A connection between the ski resorts is another option, and he says issues of water and wilderness will be taken into consideration.
"We're talking about transportation hubs mini hubs, transit centers and how we can better deal with our growing arteries for traffic," Beerman said.
A joint task force has also been formed to look at how the greater Park City area can diversify the economy. The Compact states that the Park City area does not want to be "Anywhere, USA" and supporting the mountain resort economy and local businesses were highlighted.
At the meeting, however, Park City Mayor Dana Williams said he believes the Compact should acknowledge the true commercial mix of the area, which he says is a combination of a substantial economic influx from mountain resorts and big box commercial outlets, such as those in Kimball Junction.
The differences in what types of businesses each area wishes to attract were underscored as well. Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong emphasized the need to attract a variety of good-paying jobs from the clerical to the executive in fields such as medical research and laboratories and high-tech companies.
Alison Weyher, the Economic Development Specialist for Summit County, mentioned that businesses such as those would be more suited to areas like Kimball Junction rather than Park City, and that collaboration would be needed to place businesses where they are most suitable based on the city and county's "common goals."
Managing the type of growth in the area is very important, Robinson says, as issues of open space and the natural environment are fundamentally linked to economic growth.
"We're making sure we're proactive and aggressive in charting our destiny and not letting the path of least resistance take charge and always be the answer," Robinson said.
Although Wasatch County is not officially part of the Greater Park City Compact, Robinson says its fate is intertwined with that of Park City and Summit County and he hopes to engage with the county "under the guise of regional collaboration."
Beerman is encouraged that the county and city are having regular conversations about their shared future.
"As the economy ebbs and flows, if we don't take advantage of our down times to prepare for when things really heat up, we get caught off guard," Beerman said.