Privately, leaders plan to start green talks | ParkRecord.com
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Privately, leaders plan to start green talks

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall anticipates that a wide-ranging discussion about the environment will start next week but it is unclear what will occur after an upcoming summit heavy on green issues ends.

What is being billed as the Wasatch Back Environmental Alliance Summit is scheduled on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at The Canyons, an invitation-only meeting about local environmental issues.

Alison Butz, who handles some environmental issues for the Park City government, says that the meeting is planned as the start of a community-wide exercise about the environment.

She expects that the session will feature presentations by City Hall, non-profits and the private sector. Organizations and businesses scheduled to speak at the summit include Recycle Utah, the Park City Area Homebuilders Association, renewable energy supporters and representatives from the area’s three mountain resorts. Butz says each will discuss their organization’s commitment to the environment.

Butz says City Hall’s remarks will include topics like biodiesel, which is a cleaner-burning fuel that the local government promotes, wind power, reducing carbon-dioxide emissions and efficient building practices.

"We’re going to talk about how we’re trying to develop an action plan," Butz says, adding, "I think we are a leader in that we have the ability to influence things."

The meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. In the afternoon, the organizers plan to split the attendees into small groups to talk about an environmental platform for the community.

Butz says invitations were sent to about 40 groups along the Wasatch Back and she expects 60 people to attend. Admission costs $20, which she says pays for lunch. People from the organizations who plan to attend should register by contacting Butz, 615-5151 or butz@parkcity.org.

During the administration of Mayor Dana Williams, City Hall has pressed environmental and related issues in the effort to become what boosters like Williams call a ‘sustainable community.’ Such communities strive to reduce their impact on the environment through diverse policies and programs.

In Park City, Williams has been especially aggressive in promoting alternative energies, like wind power and biodiesel.

Earlier in 2006, in a broad policy statement, the Park City Council adopted a two-page list of environmental practices endorsed by City Hall. The statement addresses issues like encouraging people to use public buses and enforcing planning rules that result in developments that are compact and preserve open space.

Williams says he plans to speak during the summit and says, afterward, he hopes a group forms to regularly discuss the issues.

"We want to make sure it’s not something we pass a resolution and we’re done," he says, referring to the earlier list of environmental practices, adding, "I think there are a lot of people who are doers."

After the summit, Butz says, City Hall plans to approach regular Parkites with the issues. She says details are not set but she expects that a public-relations campaign, community meetings and a blog will be considered.

"We’re not ending the conversation that day, we’re starting it," she says.


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