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Simpson wants friendly city

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Park City Councilwoman-elect Liza Simpson, who won a seat billing herself as a community builder, wants City Hall to hold neighborhood meetings in an effort to curb what she sees as a growing divide between longtime Parkites and those who have moved to the city recently.

Simpson envisions living-room chats or a similar style of gatherings, and she wants them to resemble a series of neighborhood discussions that was held in the early 1990s, as the boom years of the next decade were starting.

"It allowed us as residents to meet each other out of our regular confines — meet people we didn’t necessarily get to know," Simpson says in an interview.

Simpson say doing so would introduce Parkites to each other in a city that some say is not nearly as neighborly as it once was. During her campaign, Simpson says, people told her they worry about the trend. If Parkites were better acquainted, the city would be a better place, she says.

"People moved here because they fell in love with the community. Our ability to come together, even though we are from different backgrounds, different places, is what makes us special," Simpson says.

Simpson won a seat on the City Council after a mild-mannered campaign in which broad issues like growth, traffic and the environment were notable. Simpson, who lives and works in Old Town, continues a trend of Parkites keeping at least one person from her neighborhood on the City Council.

Simpson, who is 45 years old and has lived in Park City since 1989, is the general manager of Cows, Java Cow and New Dough Rising, three food and drink purveyors that share the same Main Street building.

Before starting her campaign, Simpson was known as a member of City Hall’s Recreation Advisory Board and as being active in development watchdog Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth in the 1990s. She plans to leave her Recreation Advisory Board position before taking office, and she says she is no longer involved with the development watchdog.

Simpson grew up in Berkeley, Calif., in the 1970s, and she considers herself to the political left. As she was growing up, her family encouraged community service, she recalls.

She takes office in January, and Simpson will be sworn in as City Hall enjoys high marks from many Parkites. She will replace Marianne Cone, who did not seek re-election. Incumbents Candy Erickson and Joe Kernan retained their seats on Election Day.

Simpson will be a City Councilor as the elected officials decide which projects to fund with proceeds from a $15 million bond to upgrade pedestrian and bicycling routes. She envisions putting money toward Bonanza Drive, Kearns Boulevard and Little Kate Road, three streets that many voters likely expect will be upgraded with the money.

She also says money could be spent eventually on Swede Alley to make it easier to cross the busy street one block east of Main Street.

Simpson, meanwhile, plans to champion restricted affordable housing once she takes office, a frequently polarizing topic that has pitted neighbors against housing advocates in several spots in the city limits.

Simpson says she wants City Hall to put up affordable housing that is a "home run out of the ballpark," claiming a Mountainlands Community Housing Trust project on Deer Valley Drive, which was delayed and then drew criticism for its design, made some Parkites leery of affordable housing.

She wants City Hall to put up affordable housing at a location at Snow Creek and on land where the Park Avenue fire station now sits. Both have been discussed previously.

"It will be a project we can all be proud of, that when it’s done, it will be a project they will be proud to live next door to," Simpson says.

Simpson explains she sees affordable housing as bringing Park City diversity, and people of varying means have lived in the city through its history. But the city’s resort-driven housing market, the most expensive in the state, makes it difficult for resort and restaurant workers, among other sectors, to live locally.

"I don’t want to be living in a wealthy-only enclave. Park City has always had a diverse working class," Simpson says.


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