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There was a lot on the table at the Heber City planning commission "work" session a few weeks back. There were important issues being bandied about, of course, what with the ghost of Wal-Mart future looming as the elephant in the room and more changes and updates to the original plans spewing forth than crude into the Gulf of Mexico.

According to reports circulating in the community, city planners and representatives of Wal-Mart reviewed the "final" plans and the renderings of same which were on display to aid in the ongoing "show and tell." Of course, there were changes to the last changes of the original changes, so much of the meeting was spent catching up.

For those of you hanging on the edge of your seats over such matters, let me cut to the chase: As I understand it, the Garden Center will now be on one side with the Lube & Tire Express Center gracing the opposing sightlines. The Grub section will be on the right side as you walk into store with all other paraphernalia in the middle and left side. How aesthetically pleasing! Now that changes everything.

If you have stopped by "the site" and tried to visualize any of this, I feel your pain. Does this mean that the aisle-after-aisle section of soon-to-be-recalled Chinese imports will be on the side that now resembles the research-and-development arm of the 2nd generation Mars Rover project or the side that the Heber City fathers are using to entice Beirut into becoming a "sister city?"

Not to say that the landscape out at the south end of Hebertown is barren. It’s just that, in its present state, it makes the Uranus moon Minerva look like one of those enticing beaches in the Corona beer television ads.

The Drive-Thru Pharmacy didn’t make the cut so, now, only in-store access is available, coupled with, of course, the wide variety of drugs always available to the covert appetite in Wal-Mart parking lots everywhere.

But what’s to worry? Heber will be much the better for the looming arrival of the behemoth retailer, don’t you think? I mean they’re running a more efficient operation now. Like other corporations currently taking national, regional, and local bows, they’ve gone "green."

They did roll out another timeline, however. Wal-Mart will need another 4 to 6 weeks (three weeks of which have just about passed) to buff out an additional set of plans as outlined by the city and submit them for "final" approval. No doubt the city will respond in less time than it took the original council to invite this pox upon their house in the first place.

As you can well imagine, Heber would like to see the development ball get rolling. If you recall the original campaign to allow the coin changers into the temple of small town Americana, it won’t be long until all those connected with local government will receive a hefty raise along with local taxes going into freefall.

Once the city gives its final go ahead, it will take at least a month while Wal-Mart gathers bids and names a contractor. Dirt should begin to be pushed-about beginning around September or October with a gestation period not unlike the one that unfolds within our own species following the occurrence of a manipulation similar to the one Heber underwent.

That would put the grand opening somewhere around the 4th of July of next year. Ah yes, the celebration of the freedom to be as gullible as the rest of Big Box-Nation. From here it looks like we’ll be whuppin’ up on our Park City neighbors in the Wal-Mart square-footage derby to the tune of 109,000 to 93,000 once their new addition is up and running.

And that’s before the rest of "the site" gets fleshed out with Ace Hardware, a Deal$ dollar-store, a major shoe retailer, and 90-some 1 & 2 bedroom condo units. I guess the rumors about a combination rib-joint-shooting range went by the boards along with the proposed sushi bar-yoga studio. Diversity’s taking a hard hit these days.

But as of now, that landscape is haunting. Filmmakers could use it as a location for the frontlines in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Somalia, Rwanda, or the Balkans. When in the neighborhood, I half expect to see Christiane Amanpour standing before a camera and holding a microphone while dishing on the latest crisis.

There’s no getting around it these are badlands if there ever were any. And it’s going to take more than a thousand cash registers and a hundred different brands of skin softener to make good the displaced soul of the community. Let the gestation period begin!

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for the past 40 years.


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