‘Radical change’ needed in green policies
Mayor Dana Williams is well known for pushing initiatives like open-space preservation and making Park City what he likes to call a ‘sustainable community,’ in which the city does not greatly harm the natural resources.
On Monday, in front of a national gathering of government environmental officials and businesspeople, Williams appeared with Rocky Anderson, the Democratic mayor of Salt Lake City and a longtime political ally of the Park City mayor, to talk about green issues in the two cities.
The two mayors spoke about their cities’ environmental work to an appreciative audience, with both men crafting remarks that seemed specific for the conference even though lots of the issues that Williams covered have been discussed widely in Park City.
Williams spoke for about 25 minutes, including peripheral comments about City Hall’s annual trips to other communities to learn about issues in those places and a heralded training program in which Parkites are immersed in classes about the government, nonprofits and activism, known as ‘Leadership Park City.’
Talking about the general topic of the environment, Williams said that big cities are not exclusively leading the nation.
"It is up to small communities to make the change," Williams said.
Anderson, however, was more urgent in his comments. He said America’s use of oil amounts to a crisis, that politicians have latched onto terrible answers to the energy quandary, like drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and charged that President George W. Bush has turned global warming into a partisan issue.
"We need a radical change," Anderson said as he described environmental policies.
He talked about global warming, saying that communities everywhere will feel the effects and that it could have "catastrophic impacts" on the ski industry, which the Park City economy relies on heavily.
Anderson predicted that, someday, the snow at ski resorts will not settle at the lower parts of the mountains, separating the ends of ski runs from base villages. He talked about the melting ice cap in the South Pole, said that glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana are melting and said that global warming is blamed for rising sea levels and for heat waves.
"Every local community is going to be impacted," Anderson said.
In Salt Lake City, Anderson explained, bicycle lanes have been added, orange flags placed at some intersections make it easier for walkers to cross the street and the TRAX light-rail line provides an alternative way to commute.
Williams, the popular second-term mayor, has made environmentalism and the idea of making Park City a sustainable community hallmarks of his administration, especially as City Hall emerged from the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Regular Parkites and lots of businesses have endorsed the mayor’s environmental platform through support for programs like the wind-power initiative, in which they sign up to purchase energy generated through windmills, a power source touted as being clean.
The Monday forum was, it seems, one of the most notable platforms for Williams since his environmental initiatives became a centerpiece of his administration. He usually speaks to local audiences, with sporadic appearances in front of groups of experts like that on Monday.
Some other topics that Williams touched on included:
( His prediction that affordable-housing projects will be designed to be aware of the environment.
( That he expects Park City will become the first city in the world to power a Zamboni, an ice-rink re-surfacing machine, with wind energy.
( That, perhaps, City Hall will install solar panels on the new Swede Alley garage to provide power to a town plaza that the government plans to build in Swede Alley.
( The use of biodiesel, a cleaner fuel, in the city’s transit fleet.
Williams also spoke about the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-running work in Park City, a result of the city’s mining-era legacy, including the 2005 hauling of contaminated material from Empire Canyon.
"For 20 years, we kind of played a shell game with EPA," Williams said.
He discussed City Hall’s land-conservation program, long a favorite topic for officials with the local government. Park City voters have twice approved $10 million bonds to purchase open space and the City Council may put another ballot measure to the voters in November.
Williams remembered that people in Utah were perplexed with City Hall’s open space program until it became accepted in many parts of the state.
"When that first started, it was a communist plot," he said.
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Landslides in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Sunday forced authorities to send drivers above the debris field over Guardsman Pass and into Park City as they navigated a route to the Wasatch Front. One of the landslides was considered to be major and cut off S.R. 190.