Park City opts to remain a party to controversial Mountain Accord | ParkRecord.com

Park City opts to remain a party to controversial Mountain Accord

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Park City leaders on Thursday agreed to remain a party to the controversial Mountain Accord, a broad study of the future of the Wasatch Mountain region, for another three years.

The Park City Council pledged $300,000 to the efforts over the next three years. The vote was 4-1 with City Councilor Dick Peek dissenting. The discussions about City Hall’s continued involvement unfolded over the spring and early summer as critics in Park City questioned the motivations of Mountain Accord and whether the document could induce growth locally.

The vote is not binding, meaning that City Hall could withdraw from the Mountain Accord at any point. The municipal government would not be refunded money already paid to Mountain Accord.

In an interview, Andy Beerman, who is City Hall’s Mountain Accord representative, said remaining as a participant provides the municipal government resources as it continues to address growth.

"This gives us access to funding and expertise to address these challenges regionally," Beerman said.

He pointed to the possibilities of expanding transit options along Interstate 80 between Park City and the Salt Lake Valley as one of the topics addressed by Mountain Accord.

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The vote was cast after a series of City Council discussions and hearings about Mountain Accord. There is a core group of critics who argued against various aspects of the Mountain Accord. Some especially argued the document would lead to further growth in the Park City area. There were several tense moments at previous City Council meetings between the critics and Park City leaders.

A controversial idea broached during the Mountain Accord discussions involved some sort of transportation link between the Park City area and Big Cottonwood Canyon. A link, perhaps a tunnel, drew an intense round of criticism as critics argued against creating another access point to the Park City area.

The current iteration of the Mountain Accord, though, excludes any sort of link between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon, Beerman said. Mountain Accord also does not propose to change the seasonal status of the road over Guardsman Pass linking Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon, he said. The road is open during the summertime only, but there has been talk over the years of making Guardsman Pass a year-round link between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

The Mountain Accord involves a group of government entities, not-for-profit organizations and business interests in the region. It is focused on issues like transportation, the environment, recreation and the economy.

The first City Hall payment, $100,000, is due by Sept. 30. Another $100,000 is due by Sept. 30, 2016 and the final installment is due by Sept. 30, 2017.

Laynee Jones, the Mountain Accord program manager, said the City Council’s decision on Thursday was a "critical step forward."

"It’s very meaningful. It’s the amount we budgeted and asked for," Jones said, adding, "This is a signal in the right direction that Park City will be participating."

Summit County is one of the other parties to Mountain Accord. The leadership at Mountain Accord wants the Summit County Council to pledge $150,000 to the process over the same three-year period. The County Council could discuss the topic on July 1.

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