Officials adopt green goals
March 18, 2006
City Hall wants Parkites to ride the buses more often, conserve water and avoid building sprawling developments, among a number of other environmentally friendly decisions that the local government is encouraging.
Recently, in a vote that did not draw interest from regular Parkites, the Park City Council adopted a two-page resolution outlining the environmental initiatives that City Hall will support. The vote was 4-0 with City Councilman Jim Hier absent.
The resolution is broad and incorporates a number of practices that the local government already adheres to. It addresses issues like the environmental legacy left by Park City’s silver-mining days, water quality, sprawl and transportation.
The details of the resolution parallel what the local government tries to accomplish through varying means, while planning developments and considering waterworks projects.
"It tells them their elected officials and their staff are paying attention to the impacts we have locally and globally," said Park City Councilman Joe Kernan, who supported the resolution.
Kernan is in the recycling industry and is seen as one of the government’s more prominent environmentalists. He won his seat on the City Council on a platform that included an environmental plank.
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He said Parkites did not approach him about the resolution before it was passed.
Kernan acknowledges that it may take City Hall up to a decade to make substantial progress on the initiatives that are not currently practiced by the government. He expects that the government will be influenced by regular Parkites regarding the initiatives.
"I think the speed that we address some of these environmental goals will depend on public input," Kernan said.
Some of the goals, strategies and policies within the resolution include:
( Enforcing planning rules that "reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities."
The government has long employed such restrictions when considering development applications. The Park City Planning Commission and the City Council attempt to reduce the amount of a parcel a landowner builds on by typically requiring what is known as clustered development, meaning that the construction is tightly designed while leaving lots of the rest of the parcel as open space.
( Encouraging increased use of the bus system and finding a spot for a park-and-ride lot. The bus system is touted as one of Park City’s more significant contributions to becoming environmentally friendly, with supporters saying that the free buses reduce the number of drivers, which, in turn, lessens pollution.
The area’s bus system, which traditionally operated exclusively in Park City, has expended into the Snyderville Basin through an agreement between Park City and Summit County officials. The number of people riding the buses has been commended.
Meanwhile, there has been widened but not detailed discussions this year about the potential of building a park-and-ride lot, probably along either the S.R. 248 or the S.R. 224 corridor.
Park City officials are especially interested in the idea and say that, if drivers were directed to such a lot on the outskirts of the city and then take buses into Old Town, there would be less traffic within the city. Parkites have complained about increased traffic for some time and this winter, many people say, the traffic became worse.
The traffic seemed to peak during the Sundance Film Festival in January, partly spurring more discussion about the potential of park-and-ride lots.
( Continuing to address the impacts of the city’s mining era, which has been of concern at City Hall for decades. The document states that a goal is to "mitigate historic mining impacts to avoid regulatory scrutiny."
Federal and state environmental officials have monitored Park City for years and the EPA has been particularly interested in the mining legacy.
The city in the 1980s created a so-called ‘soils district’ to regulate properties on which elevated lead levels were found. Earlier in 2006, the EPA finished its work in the neighborhood and the completion was widely hailed by the EPA, City Hall and people living in Prospector.
Other topics covered in the resolution include clean and renewable energy, trails and the desire to encourage developers, businesses, non-profits and other governments to be aware of the environment.
Alison Butz, the City Hall staffer who manages special events and the government’s buildings, wrote a key report in support of the initiatives and said in an interview that momentum for them has accelerated since 2003. She noted the success of City Hall’s wind-power program and green-building guidelines since then.
The initiatives are the first of their kind in Park City, she said. Some of the points have been adhered to for more than a decade but they are now compiled in a formalized document, Butz said.
"This is like our task list, our to-do list," she said.
Insa Riepen, the executive director of Recycle Utah, had not been briefed on the details of the initiatives by midweek but said she supported the City Council. Riepen said she is pleased that the government included in the document support for her organization as it attempts to obtain what are called ‘5 tub grinders.’
She said such machines accept "basically everything" like wood and drywall. The machines grind the material, which could then be used for mulch, and ensures that the materials are not dumped in landfills, Riepen said.
Riepen said the environmental initiatives could make Park City more competitive with other mountain resorts.
"If you want to attract the audience from New York and California, you need to come up with something better than Colorado," she said. "Colorado is pretty darn green."