Mayor delivers State of the City address |

Mayor delivers State of the City address

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Mayor Dana Williams recently delivered a de facto State of the City address, choosing to cover City Hall’s environmental initiatives, traffic and relations with the Snyderville Basin, among other topics, as he spoke to a crowd of people who aspire to local leadership roles.

Speaking for approximately 35 minutes at The Yarrow, the mayor discussed a series of widely discussed issues of importance to Park City. He did not outline any significant changes to City Hall’s direction, though, and spent some of the time briefly touching on some other topics.

His appearance in front of the Leadership Park City class, an annual training program designed for people wanting to take on greater roles in civic life, came the month after Williams was sworn into office for a third four-year term. Many of his comments were similar to those he made while campaigning in 2009.

The mayor was especially frank, though, as he spoke about relations between Park City and the Snyderville Basin, saying that people in the Basin would not mind if City Hall annexed neighborhoods stretching to Summit Park. But, he said, people inside Park City would be livid if that were to occur. Such a move would be unprecedented locally, and it is highly improbable there will ever be formalized talks about an annexation of that size.

He did not discuss the topic in depth, and his comments were in response to a question from an audience member rather than part of his prepared remarks. The mayor said people in the Basin should develop a separate identity for that area. There is not a rivalry between Park City and the Snyderville Basin, he said, describing that is not the case between the East Side and West Sides of Summit County and between North Summit and South Summit.

"I don’t really see it as a them and us," he said about Park City’s relations with the Basin.

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He mentioned cooperative efforts between Park City and Summit County leaders to provide recreation facilities to people on the West Side whether they live inside Park City or in the Basin. He also pointed out an agreement between City Hall and county officials to purchase open space together.

But he also acknowledged there are deep-rooted differences between Park City and the Basin, including the Basin being more of a bedroom community and attracting giant retailers. Park City, though, predominantly relies on the resort industry as its economic driver, he said.

Many people in the Basin identify with Park City and are routinely in the city for work, recreation, shopping, dining and entertainment. There is occasional confusion by some people in the Basin who erroneously believe they live inside Park City, a scenario that has led a few people to contemplate a campaign for elected office inside the city even though they are not eligible since they are not residents of Park City.

Some other topics Williams discussed included:

Traffic on S.R. 248, the most direct route into and out of Park City for drivers in Wasatch County, the East Side and parts of the Basin. He said a park-and-ride parking lot at Quinn’s Junction coupled with the bus system could reduce traffic along the state highway, which is frequently clogged during rush hour.

"I don’t know if we’ll completely solve it," Williams said about traffic on S.R. 248.

City Hall’s finances, which he said are in solid shape. He said Park City has "taken a pretty good hit financially," but the municipal budget is in order and City Hall’s grades from bond-rating agencies have risen.

The makeup of City Hall, which he said is based on the economy, the community and the environment. He traced the inner workings of the municipal government to a wide-ranging overhaul at City Hall after the 2002 Winter Olympics. Williams was the mayor during the time and was criticized during his re-election campaign in 2009 for the restructuring of the local government.

The prospects of a military hotel along the S.R. 248 entryway, which he said is not an appropriate spot for such a facility. He did not speak extensively about the idea of a hotel for the military at Quinn’s Junction, but he and others at City Hall have long been opposed to having one put on the entryway. His comment came amid statements that the military has narrowed its list of potential sites, with Quinn’s Junction, The Canyons and the shores of the Jordanelle Reservoir each being a finalist. The Legislature is considering a bill that could simplify the development process.

Mr. Mayor

Name: Dana Williams

Age: 54

Political position: Mayor of Park City

Lives in: Prospector

Took office: In early 2002 after a bruising campaign in 2001 against a popular member of the Park City Council. Unchallenged for re-election in 2005. Won a third term in the 2009 election by beating Brad Olch, his predecessor in the mayor’s office.

Won office by way of: Being the Park City’s area’s most visible development critic in the 1990s. He was a leader in the early years of Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth, the top-ranking development watchdog in the area, and came to political prominence during the highly charged debates about what would become Empire Pass.

Earns a living: making coffee drinks as a barista in Old Town and performing with Motherlode Canyon Band, a rock ‘n’ roll outfit popular in Park City. He once held a high-ranking position in a real estate firm but was forced to relinquish the job after the firm determined it needed more hours on the job.

Sees Park City’s future as dependent on: The city being what he and others label a sustainable community, or a place that recognizes that environmentalism is crucial to the long-term viability of a recreation destination like Park City. Sustainability, as practiced by City Hall, reaches into other aspects of the government as well, including economic development and the direction of growth. Williams is the most recognizable of the city’s sustainability advocates.