County pushing East-West unity |

County pushing East-West unity

Summit County leaders believe it is time to retire the idea of a West Side and East Side.

The Summit County Council brought up the idea a few months ago, and has been consistently working the concept into long-term plans.

It was listed as a major goal in the rough draft of the county’s master plan discussed last week. The aspiration is frequently referred to by County Council members in their discussions. A community planner will elaborate on it in an alternative futures plan presented May 18 at 1 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building.

"Eventually it’s inevitable," said County Manager Bob Jasper in an interview last week. "We are already tied together economically."

The motivation is practical, not sentimental, Jasper explained. The two sides need each other.

The idea of a West Side referring to the Park City and Snyderville Basin and an East Side referring to North and South Summit is due to economics. The West relied on mining, and now tourism. The East has traditionally been more agricultural. The West is urban and suburban; the East is rural.

"Historically, you had two different worlds and cultures," Jasper acknowledged.

But it’s not as true anymore.

"Many people in the Kamas Valley work in Park City the West Side offers jobs and economic development," he added. "The West Side needs labor; the East Side needs jobs."

What are teenagers at North Summit and South Summit high schools doing after graduation? They have to leave to find education and careers and then try to return later. A prosperous West Side helps people stay in the communities where they grew up, he said.

During its discussion of the Transfer of Density Rights program earlier this month, the County Council made clear it would like to see more housing developments on the East Side to accommodate residential growth.

The residents of Summit County will have more options in the future if the two sides think as one, Jasper said last week.

The Summit County Beef project is an example of working together for mutual benefit, Jasper said. The restaurants and grocery stores on the West Side want all the locally-grown, grass-fed beef Kamas Valley ranchers can provide them. The ranchers make more profit from their cattle by selling locally instead of shipping out of state.

But working together for mutual benefit does not mean the two sides need to be governed the same way, Jasper said. It makes sense to have two planning commissions. It works to allow people on the East Side more pets on their properties. It makes sense to have stricter building codes on the West.

"The East Side is more spread out; there’s no need for such tight controls," Jasper said. "It’s OK to have different sets of rules for the cultures of the county. Being one county doesn’t mean we need to do it exactly the same."

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