Mayor: city’s state is strong | ParkRecord.com

Mayor: city’s state is strong

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Mayor Dana Williams, who has long embraced ideas and causes usually seen as being to the political left, refuses to associate himself with a political party, opting to keep his office and City Hall politically neutral.

In a recent address, Williams told a crowd at The Yarrow it is best he does not take sides politically or make public statements about controversial topics like the Iraqi war because they are not, in his estimation, in the realm of the mayor’s office.

Instead, Williams told the Leadership 101 class, he sticks to issues that City Hall can influence, such as combating global warming. The local government has numerous programs meant to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, which are believed to contribute to global warming. He discussed a few as he explained why he is involved in the debate about global warming but not about the war.

"It’s not my job to espouse my personal thought," Williams said as he talked about his reluctance to publicly address the war.

In the months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Parkites like peace activist Rich Wyman pressed Williams and the Park City Council to formally renounce the impending war. The other elected officials agreed with Williams that they could not influence the Iraqi situation, and they refused to adopt an anti-war or peace resolution.

Park City’s elected offices are nonpartisan, and Williams and other elected officials tend to distance themselves from partisan politics.

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Williams, speaking with confidence and capturing the audience’s attention, spent about 40 minutes discussing City Hall’s progress, giving, in effect, a State of the City address to a mixed crowd of Parkites.

He talked broadly about the goings-on at City Hall as he touched on numerous topics. At some points he spoke as a huge picture of himself playing with his rock ‘n’ roll band was projected on a screen.

Williams described City Hall’s goals for 2008, including securing more drinking water and ensuring the quality of the water supply, preserving Park City’s character as a ski town and advancing the parking system and bus service.

Williams, who is in his second term and has not publicized his political plans for 2009, when the mayor’s office is on the ballot, told the crowd the government’s work since the end of the 2002 Winter Olympics has been much more focused on the community.

Some of the topics he discussed in front of the Leadership 101 group included:

The city government’s move toward environmentalism, or sustainability, as some call the trend. He said the new police station off S.R. 224 uses the Earth’s internal heat for heating and cooling, known as a geothermal energy system. He said the same sort of system will be installed at City Hall when the building is remodeled. The mayor said the city is researching how much energy municipal buildings use.

The $15 million bond Park City voters passed in November to improve pedestrian and bicyclist routes in the city. He said people backed plans to build a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Bonanza Drive, but it could be more difficult to win widespread support for some other projects. He said city leaders must consider the wishes of neighborhoods competing for funding from the bond money.

"It’s going to be an interesting several months," he said, referring to the work of a committee seated to recommend projects for funding.

The planned park-and-ride lot at Quinn’s Junction. Talisker Corp.-controlled United Park City Mines plans to build a huge lot at Quinn’s Junction, along the S.R. 248 entryway, and City Hall sees the lot as a way to cut traffic on the congested state highway.

"Needless to say, the 248 corridor is a mess," Williams said.

For the park-and-ride lot to be successful, he said, there must be incentives for the work force to use the lot instead of driving into Park City and searching for parking spaces in the city.

A bus route would serve the park-and-ride lot, shuttling people between the lot and Park City. Details continue to be crafted, but Williams said the lot will be "effective."

Other topics he briefly addressed included his expectation that Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort will build more seasonal housing for their work forces and that the idea to build a town plaza in Old Town is "on hold." He said City Hall continues to negotiate a deal with the United States Postal Service for the town plaza. The plaza’s design hinges on space now occupied by the Main Street post office.

He also said City Hall is advancing plans to build a work force housing project at Snow Creek. Neighbors were "very against it" when the idea was broached, but they now support the designs, Williams said.

Mr. Mayor

Name: Dana Williams

Age: 52

Lives: On Doc Holliday Drive in Prospector

Office: In his second term as the mayor of Park City. He was unchallenged when voters re-elected him in 2005. His term ends at the start of 2010, and he has not said publicly if he will seek re-election in the 2009 campaign.

Party politics: City Hall’s elected positions are nonpartisan, meaning Williams does not have to affiliate with a political party. He has a long history of supporting issues that are popular with the political left, however.

Platform: In the period since the 2002 Winter Olympics, and especially in the last several years, Williams has pushed City Hall to become more environmentally aware. He and others call the theory ‘sustainability,’ essentially that the local government wants to reduce its effects on the environment.

His other jobs: Williams is a real estate agent, and he sings and plays guitar in Motherlode Canyon Band, a rock ‘n’ roll outfit popular in the local music scene.

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