New name added to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission
While Malena Stevens was growing up in a small town in California, she says her family wasn’t very engaged in the community.
“As a young person, I didn’t recognize what that loss was,” she said. “But, I knew that I wanted the feeling of being a part of a community. I wanted to be able to make an impact.”
One of the ways that Stevens feels she has made a difference is by serving on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission for the last two years. She recently reapplied to retain her post.
“I just think it is important to become a part of the community you live in and planning is a huge part of what is shaping it,” she said.
The Summit County Council announced Stevens’ reappointment on Wednesday. The terms of Stevens and Commission Chair Bea Peck are set to expire on Feb. 28. Beck said she was on the fence about reapplying, but ultimately decided not to. Crystal Simons will replace the two-term commissioner.
The County Council held interviews earlier this month to fill the slots, with nine people applying for the vacancies. Simon and Stevens’ upcoming terms will expire in 2022.
While on the planning panel, Stevens has participated in decisions regarding several significant projects in the Basin, including the hotel proposed for the former Colby School property on S.R. 224 and the Woodward action-sports camp at Gorgoza Park. She also served on the citizens’ committee that created the neighborhood plan for Kimball Junction and the surrounding areas.
Stevens works at the Park City Police Department as the chief executive assistant to Chief Wade Carpenter. She previously served as the Police Department’s victim’s advocate. She has lived in the county for nearly eight years.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time on the Planning Commission, not only because of the things I’ve learned, but honestly, I find the whole planning process fascinating,” she said. “It has been a great way to gain more insight and make more of an impact in the community.”
Council member Roger Armstrong attributed Stevens’ reappointment to the time she has already spent on the planning panel. He said she is familiar with the processes and has been heavily involved with the creation of the Kimball Junction neighborhood plan.
“The experience she has is valuable and she has shown herself to be a good member of the commission,” he said.
Simons has now lived in Park City with her husband and 3-year-old daughter for a little more than a year. They lived in the area from 2005 to 2009 while Simons was interning with the Park City Planning and Sustainability departments. But, they left so Simons could attend graduate school at the University of California in Berkeley.
Simons received two masters degrees, in city and regional planning and environmental planning, with a focus on river restoration and land conservation. She works remotely in Park City for a project in California.
“What’s exciting to me about being appointed is the opportunity to bring my skill set back to the community,” she said. “I come from a small town (Sun Valley, Idaho) and understand how important quality of life is. Yet, I just spent a decade in an urban metropolitan area and I think my experience in both will be helpful.”
Simons views decisions on transportation and housing as critical, especially considering Park City and Summit County are preparing for a potential second Winter Olympics in 2030. She added, “We need to grow smart and thoughtfully.”
“But, as we grow we can maintain a quality of life and that is my inspiration,” she said. “I really feel like I have the professional background and knowledge to serve and be a productive member of the commission.”
Simons plans to approach her decisions “holistically and with an open mind.” She said she isn’t bringing politics into her role — only an academic background.
“I think code is important to enforce,” she said. “I believe in the law and government and public service. I will be subjective and objective when it is appropriate. That is what good planners do.”
Armstrong said Simons’ professional experience was something elected officials found valuable, especially her focus on environmental issues.
“In light of our strategic goals, it was something the Council was in favor of,” he said.
Simons and Stevens will join fellow commissioners Canice Hart, Joel Fine, Thomas Cooke, Ryan Dickey and John Kucera. Their first meeting will be next month. Commissioners are expected to begin the daunting task of rewriting the Snyderville Basin Development Code, a process that could take several months.
Commissioners serve on a volunteer basis and are required to attend two monthly meetings. They are responsible for making recommendations to the County Council regarding zoning, amendments to the respective development codes and development application reviews.
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