Letters to the Editor
October 18, 2008
Below is a letter I sent today to Matt Cassel, City Engineer.
My wife and I are the neighbors directly above the proposed Echo Spur development on Rossie Hill, and we’re appealing to you to do whatever you can to uphold our Land Management code in the face of this development, because we put little trust in these developers to take anything into account beyond their bottom line. In fact, the rush this week to get this new stretch of platted McHenry cut into the hillside has the feeling of a football team running without a huddle before anyone can call for a review of their last play.
Look, there’s more than a whiff of payback in the way these developers have proceeded since the Planning Commission rejected their original concepts. Rather than work with the city planners and listen to concerns of the neighbors, these developers have pulled an end-around and are forcing the same bad planning down our throats as was forced down the throats of Park City residents back in 1873 by the so-called "Michigan Bunch." Back then, as I’m sure you know, these Midwestern speculators blew into town, got title from Washington, and had some crony back in Grand Haven draw up a plat map as if Park City lay on flat ground. And we’ve had to deal with the mess ever since.
For instance, our stretch of McHenry Avenue is platted to run straight downhill. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and the street jogs eastward at our house, descending Rossie Hill at a gentler angle. Beside our house, platted McHenry remains as a neighborhood park and garden, and below us: a green hillside.
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Until now. This new Echo Spur stretch of McHenry is about to follow that same bad platting straight downhill, necessitating a massive retaining wall and cutting through some of the last green space left in Old Town and it seems that little is being done to oversee this bone-headed "were-doing-this-because-we-can" development until it’s too late.
This is where you come in. We’ve learned a thing or two about sensible development since the 1870s. If these developers insist on cramming sixteen little boxes into the hillside as is their right, evidently, thanks to the Michigan Bunch at least we can demand that they show some respect, leave as much greenery as we can force them to, and adhere to whatever of today’s standards we can.
Over the years, you see development around town that leaves you scratching your head and asking, "Who the heck allowed this to happen?" This is our fear about this Echo Spur development, Matt. Please do whatever you can to mitigate our concerns.
McMullin understands how county works
For the last 18 months, I’ve had the privilege to sit with Claudia McMullin on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. WOW! Claudia is truly amazing. At each meeting, I’m impressed with her ability to listen to all sides of the issue, apply the code and make fair decisions.
I don’t think Claudia knows how much she has impacted my life. She’s a mentor.
I’m grateful to Claudia for helping me learn the code and showing me the nuts and bolts of our county government. Those are just two reasons I’m voting for Claudia for Council Seat B. First, Claudia is a giver. She gives to our community and individuals. Truly, she has mentored more through her example than anyone I know. Second, Claudia understands the procedures of our county government. With her on the Council, this will be a smooth transition.
Aside from being one of the smartest people I know, Claudia is committed to meeting the needs of everyone in our community. As a County Council member, Claudia truly will build a better community.
Julie H. Baker
They represent the vision of the Weisses
I lit a candle last night for Claire, Norman and Gary Weiss. They believed that Park City was home. Claire and Norman started Passover Dinner at St. Mary’s Church, way back, before there was a Temple, and Friends of Animals often began with the Puppy Chair at Dolly’s where we would bring in the babies, clean ’em up and wait patiently until the love of their lives walked in. Politics, recycling, human rights, housing and sound land use. This is what they stood for. So I lit a candle and thanked them.
These days are wonderful, the issues not so different housing, fairness, honesty, land use, oh, and did I say honesty. Sally Elliott, Claudia McMullin, John Hanrahan These are the people who will most represent that vision, and I am so grateful they are running, and care about this community.
Shelley Vebber Weiss
Council needs a problem solver
We have known Summit County Council candidate Steve Weinstein, for 14 years. Steve has always been interested, concerned and proactive about the people and community around him: neighbors, co workers, employees, friends, and relatives. Steve is a ski instructor, a contractor, and an all-around reliable individual. When we were discussing the qualifications for being a really effective elected representative, I commented to Steve that I feel an important criterion for a county council person is the ability to problem solve. Steve’s response was, "I love problem solving!" We have a lot of issues that require a multi tasking, patient, problem solver. Steve is that person. Please vote for him. Thanks.
Hanrahan understands the issues
What comes to mind when I think of John Hanrahan, candidate for County Council Seat C, is John’s ability to recognize a need and to get the job done.
John saw a growing population with no health insurance in Summit County and he founded the People’s Health Clinic. John saw a need for health care in the developing nations in Africa and he founded the Hope Alliance. John saw the need for preserving open and recreational space in Park City and he has supported every open space bond used to purchase private lands for the community’s use.
John’s ability to deal directly with important issues and to implement solutions will be very important as the new county council moves forward in hiring and overseeing a county manager. John knows how to be successful in new ventures.
With John’s leadership and compassion, we may even be able to break through the East/West divide in our county. He has served the entire county already is his professional life as a physician.
As we face critical economic, social and land use issues on which we will need to be united, John’s fair and committed approach will serve as well.
My vote is for John Hanrahan for County Council seat C and I hope all of our citizens will consider voting for John as well.
Affordable housing fears unwarranted
In your front page article in the October 15th Park Record your reporter highlighted charges raised by Ms. Betty Wallace, who resides at 158 Main Street, about her concerns with Talisker’s proposed work-force housing project on Marsac Avenue. We have heard similar fears raised by neighbors of other affordable housing projects and they are simply unwarranted.
With Mountainland’s The Line Condominium Project on Deer Valley Drive the neighbors voiced similar concerns about property values, increased crime, overcrowding and the like. The school district projected 46 school-age children being generated by the project (there are 33 people living in 32 bedrooms and one child). The purchasers all worked at local businesses for at least five years. They are employees of the three resorts, local non-profits, local government, a local newspaper, a rental car company, real estate companies or owners of small business like ski rentals and a bar. They are exactly the targeted group for workforce housing and are the people who make Park City the special place it is.
Ms. Wallace is probably unaware of the existence of Mountainland’s Washington Mill affordable housing project on Daly Avenue that was built over twelve years ago right up the street from her house. Real estate values for all categories in the area of The Line have risen since construction started in 2004 from an average of $629,941 to $1,562,592 as of June 30th this year. There have been several local and national studies that show affordable housing is neutral or increases the value of neighborhoods.
In short, the fears and misconceptions surrounding affordable housing are predictable but wrong. It is unfortunate when they are stated as fact they garner the headlines and sound bites.
Mountainlands Community Housing Trust
Do you know what district you’re in?
I am a national political junkie. I watch cable news and read national political blogs. So I was taken aback recently when someone asked me what "precinct" I’m in. I realized I need to focus more on the local playing field.
Our local elections matter. Which precinct or district you’re in can affect who represents your interests at the federal or state level.
What I have recently learned is that Utah is the gerrymandering capital of the United States. Districts are drawn by the state legislature in a process that is dominated and controlled by supermajorities in the House and Senate. This has led to some interesting results.
I recently learned that District 53 (the one that includes, among other areas, much of Park City) is badly gerrymandered, incorporating all or part of Summit, Wasatch, Daggett, Morgan and Rich counties.
Here’s how to visualize it. District 53 reaches around the corner of Wyoming in two directions: all the way to the Utah-Colorado border, on the one hand, and nearly as far as the Utah-Idaho border, on the other.
Sound crazy? It gets better. The way the district is drawn, if you live in Glenwild, you’re in House District 53. If you live across I-80 in Willow Creek, you’re in House District 25 and have a different representative. If you’re in Jeremy Ranch, that’s District 53. Have a best friend who lives in Pinebrook? That’s District 25 — different representative.
Does this make sense to you? The problem is, unless we demand it, the process will not change. Some well-meaning legislators have tried, but the bills never get to a vote. Too many powerful people have a vested interest in the status quo.
We need to step up and demand a process that will lead to better representation. Vote for Kathy Lofft, House District 53: she will advocate for fairness and objectivity in the redistricting process.
Setting the record straight
I’m writing to set the record straight. I am the CEO of The Ensign Group, which is a family business that owns and operates farms and ranches and invests in real estate. In eastern Summit County, we have about 55,000 acres of rangeland, 10,000 acres of which has been protected with a conservation easement. Currently, we’re installing anemometers to evaluate the wind potential in hopes of developing a commercial wind farm. In addition, we have about 430 acres along Highway 150 near the Bear River Ranger Station, concerning which we have an inactive but pending application for a 12-lot subdivision. Except as noted above, we have no intentions of developing any of our Summit County property.
David Allen was a partner in our company until 2003, at which time we separated and he became the county’s community development director. Since 1998, Randy Cassidy has worked for The Ensign Group on Tooele and Davis County projects. For his own account, Randy has also worked for Summit County as an independent contractor dealing with real estate issues. At no time have I or my business interests been benefited, monetarily or otherwise, by Randy’s or David’s involvement with Summit County, nor have I had anything whatsoever to do with their involvement.
I’m running for County Council purely to serve this great community. I don’t need another job. Over the past 20+ years of running our businesses and being involved with some great organizations like SLOC and The Nature Conservancy, I’ve learned a lot that will be of great benefit to leading this new form of government. I have no hidden agendas or motives and reiterate my firm commitment to recuse myself from any matter that even has the appearance of self-dealing or a conflict of interest.
Candidate, Summit County Council Seat D
Obama would punish small businesses
I feel like a miniature piggy bank with President Obama staring at me with a giant hammer.
Admittedly, Sen. Obama only believes in the American dream up to $250K. After that, your greed requires the strong arm of "Fed-zilla" to improve your charity (thanks to rock legend Ted Nugent for the term "Fed-zilla").
Obama’s middle-class tax cut and $250K "safety zone" are not what he purports. Here are the facts: Earlier this year, the NY Times finally reported that the top 25% wage earners pay 84% of all income taxes. Accordingly, 40% of Obama’s "95%" don’t pay taxes. They won’t receive a tax break. Worse, they will receive "refundable credits," which is Washington-ese for checks costing taxpayers four times what the bloated welfare state already costs.
Another zinger: The "only a small % of small businesses earn more than $250K" is pure sophistry even according to the government. Census data has identified over 15 small business categories — not individual businesses but categories — with revenues well north of 7 figures. Moreover, most small business owners file as an individual even though they have incorporated.
In almost every case business incomes exceed $250k. Thus, small businesses can expect a growth-killing tax increase.
Unfortunately, our country and specifically the left, has forgotten that the purpose of business is not to provide jobs and benefits; it is to be profitable. The only way business can hire and provide benefits is if they are profitable. Job growth comes from business growth — it really is that simple. No, Sen. Obama, the middle class is not the engine of the economy — profitable small business is. Punishing and re-distributing productivity and success is socialism and no matter what dollar value you attach, it’s against the American dream.
Hurd would do best job at lowest cost
What a pleasure to have the opportunity to write a letter of recommendation re one of the truly outstanding citizens of Park City, Tom Hurd.
Tom is that kind of person I want to represent my family and me as a member of the County Council for Summit County. I have known Tom for years and can attest to his most desirable qualities of honesty, integrity and the work ethic of one who wants to get the job done right at the lowest possible cost. With Tom, we all will know our tax dollars will always be used effectively and prudently.
Tom’s diversified background gives each of us comfort knowing that his depth of knowledge will give us strong representation dedicated to what is best for each of us. Some of his background includes his bachelor’s degree from Connell University, USAF pilot, Pan American World Airways, farmer and businessman. His life experience coupled with his honesty, his work ethic and his desire to serve give me great pride in strongly endorsing the election of Tom Hurd to the County Council for Summit County.