Harlan readies to return
It has been four years since Roger Harlan sat at the Park City Council dais, before the Winter Olympics, before Treasure Hill became polarizing and before Tom Bakaly was named city manager.
But Harlan, who won back a seat on the City Council in his unexpected campaign last fall, declares that he is ready to return to the five-person panel next month. His swearing-in is scheduled on Jan. 12, when he will take the oath of office with Mayor Dana Williams and City Councilman Jim Hier, who were re-elected.
Harlan describes himself as someone who is already somewhat prepared to serve given his previous time on the City Council, when he served 9 years, ending in early 2002. He did not seek re-election in 2001.
"I think I’m going to hit the ground running," he said.
But he admits that his prior service does not guarantee accolades and he said he has attended City Council meetings since the election and has read numerous reports about City Hall issues from staffers to prepare.
"There’s very little respect given to past accomplishments," he said. "I don’t feel that respect carries over."
Harlan was the top vote-getter in the November election, beating Hier by nine votes. He served previously on the City Council from 1992 until early 2002. In those 10 years, the city handled rapid growth and preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He cast landmark votes on issues like paid parking and the Flagstaff development, now known as Empire Pass.
The City Council is facing a range of issues and Harlan lists three that he sees as vital for the government, including the ongoing consideration of Intermountain Health Care’s hospital application, affordable housing and the future of what is known as the North of Main business district, referred to by the businesses as NoMa.
Harlan said he is cautious about the hospital, which IHC wants to build at Quinn’s Junction, nearby a recreation complex City Hall is building. Harlan said the supporters need to persuade him that the hospital would be successful.
"Convince me there are the dynamics," Harlan said.
He does not want a scenario in which the hospital is built, is not successful and then abandoned. Harlan said he does not plan to "sandbag" the application and said his caution is a result of questions about the hospital rather than concerns.
The Park City Planning Commission is considering the IHC application and, since an annexation is needed, the City Council will also vote on the request.
Harlan is vague when he discusses his plans for affordable housing, which is restricted to those whose incomes qualify them for rentals or purchases. He said perhaps City Hall could purchase older housing stock and offer those residences as affordable housing or the government could build new affordable-housing units.
Harlan, though, said he is not yet prepared to name locations for housing. Sometimes people are unhappy when an affordable-housing development is proposed near their homes, arguing that traffic would increase and that a project does not fit into the neighborhood.
"The city needs to continually address the need for housing for people in the service industry and full-time workers," Harlan said.
He talks about the North of Main business district, NoMa, as having a "real future" and momentum. Harlan said if the business district is successful it would help Park City compete with Kimball Junction, where commercial expansion has been intense.
Harlan said NoMa would complement instead of compete with Main Street, Park City’s most famous shopping district. He said the government should not be generating ideas for the NoMa merchants but instead assisting them when ideas are proposed.
"It’s not intended to replace Main Street, not at all," he said.
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When it comes to the U.S. census, let’s just say Park City has… room for improvement.