"The futures of Summit County, Park City and Wasatch County are inextricably entwined." That is the first sentence of the Greater Park City Compact, a shared effort that seeks to address growth, transportation, the environment and other key issues.
Although Wasatch County was not officially a part of the Compact, a joint meeting amongst Park City, Heber City and Wasatch and Summit Counties on Tuesday, Aug. 6, has begun to set the framework for collaboration between these entities on multiple fronts.
Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis, who coordinated the joint meeting, is optimistic.
"We felt it was advantageous to just show them what we were working on and see if they had any direction for us," Davis said.
Issues Davis said that the jurisdictions agreed need to be addressed include transportation, affordable housing and water. The increase in oil trucks along U.S. 40 was one concern related to transportation. Due to an energy boom in the Uinta Basin, numerous trucks ship crude oil through Wasatch and Summit Counties.
"We are all involved with UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) to see if there are other ways to transport crude other than on trucks," Davis said. Summit County Manager Bob Jasper added that there currently is no pipeline to transport the crude oil.
Addressing another transportation issue, Davis says that mass transit, especially between Wasatch and Summit Counties, is important. Jasper agreed and stressed the mutual efforts the two counties wish to make.
"We're working with Wasatch County to partner and extend our bus system," Jasper said. "We're also trying to work with the state to get HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes for buses."
Jasper also brought up the Utah State Transportation Commission's Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which he says does not have any funded projects that affect the area. He stressed that "we have to tell the state we have problems."
Another issue of concern is related to development. Davis and Jasper both brought up the fact that, roughly 20 years ago, vast amounts of development were approved by Wasatch County in the Jordanelle Basin and surrounding Deer Valley Resort.
"In Summit County and Park City, they had no realization we had this going on," Davis said. "We had no realization of the development in Silver Creek and towards Guardsman Pass."
"When you start looking regionally all this growth is already pre-approved. There's going to be more than a doubling of the population here," Jasper said.
Jasper says a doubling of the population of the area in a 50-mile radius around Park City is in order "in the next 25 years" and he adds that, as the economy rebounds, there will be pressure to build out the subdivisions that Wasatch County has approved. Davis says there are 12,000 to 15,000 units that could develop around the Jordanelle.
This issue of development ties back in to transportation concerns, as Wasatch County Planning Director Doug Smith says the capacities of the state highways around the Jordanelle will need to be analyzed.
"Highway 40 is already cramped," Jasper said. "Some would like to go through Park City down Marsac [Avenue] and down over. There will probably be a battle about not opening up a full-blown road, because that would go through Park City."
Summit and Wasatch found themselves collaborating a few years ago when the military was looking for a site for a recreational facility. The military's MIDA project area included land in both counties and there is a desire on the part of the Authority to build a military vacation hotel, according to Jasper.
"MIDA keeps a good amount of sales and property tax revenues. They want that area to develop so that they have a revenue stream," Jasper said.
"With the advent of the MIDA, it became clear there needed to be more coordination with Park City working with Deer Valley on a study that would essentially come up with information that would help us coordinate between each other," Davis said.
Overall, both county managers said they were pleased with the smooth start of their multilateral dialogue.
"We haven't always gotten along, but we were able to meet and have productive discussions," Jasper said. "It's a real sign of the times."
"We want to make sure we're communicating, we're informative and not adversely affecting our neighbors," Davis said. "There's a realization of huge growth potentials."