Summit County Council reviews 2030 Winter Olympics community compact
February 8, 2019
Summit County's elected officials are approaching the potential for the region to host a 2030 Winter Olympics a little differently than their predecessors did in the time leading up to the 2002 Games.
Councilor Chris Robinson acknowledged during a meeting on Friday that the county had limited active involvement in the area's planning for the 2002 Winter Olympics and acted more as a "rogue trustee," only helping to facilitate permitting and parking options.
But, Robinson, who served on the 2002 organizing committee, said the county now has a seat at the table. It didn't in 2002.
"Park City is going to have a big role," he said. "The question is what kind of role do we want to have? I think we are better off being engaged, and I think we want to be protective and opportunistic."
Robinson's comments were made as part of a Summit County Council discussion about the draft of a 2030 Winter Olympics community compact during a retreat at the Utah Olympic Park. Park City Mayor Andy Beerman, County Councilors Robinson and Roger Armstrong, and Colin Hilton, the president and CEO of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, helped create the draft of the compact. County Manager Tom Fisher and Park City Manager Diane Foster were also involved.
The compact is intended to identify the promises elected officials want to make to the community if an Olympics were to be awarded to the region. The United States Olympic Committee in December selected Salt Lake City to bid on a future Winter Games, likely the event in 2030.
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The draft of the compact addresses financing a Games, transportation, environmental sustainability and affordable housing.
"This compact becomes a lens through which we look at how we approach the Games," Robinson said. "We have overlapping objectives that the Olympics can serve as a catalyst or an accelerant to help us get support from outside realms to achieve. If we do it right, it will bring great things to our community that will extend far beyond the Olympics."
County officials have tapped former city officials and leaders to learn more about the planning of the 2002 Games.
"They were largely in the same boat 10 years out and they forced their way in," Fisher said. "They said, 'We are here and we are going to represent ourselves.' We have already said as staff we are going to make sure our foot is in the door."
Fisher said the reason staff is taking that approach is because Hilton and others involved in the Salt Lake Olympic efforts have indicated a desire to control costs and demonstrate a different model for how to bid on and host an Olympics. He said there is a strong desire to keep things small and contained.
"Sometimes that looks like there are people behind closed doors in a smoke-filled room," he said. "But, we expect there will be a formal way for us to participate."
Armstrong, like Robinson, said the compact is about protecting residents and seizing opportunities that may come with a future Games. He said having an official voice will allow that. But, Armstrong said elected officials should keep the compact vague enough that they aren't making promises they can't keep.
"All you have to do look around and you can see can see the impacts on the county from the last Olympics. … If there are opportunities out there, we need to have the ability to recognize and seize them or at least get a share of them," he said. "Now that we have seen what can be, we would be foolish not to have the opportunity, to the extent that we can, to make our services better."
The draft of the compact is not currently available to the public. County Councilors intend to meet with other members involved in creating the compact in the comings months to finalize it.
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