Upcoming panel discussion to focus on Summit County’s future | ParkRecord.com

Upcoming panel discussion to focus on Summit County’s future

What is the future of Summit County, in terms of transportation, the economy and the environment? Has the goose that laid the golden egg been strangled? Or is it alive and well?

As both Summit County and Park City officials are exploring policies to address these issues, especially considering the arrival of Vail Resorts, the public has been invited to take part in the conversation at an upcoming panel discussion. The discussion is billed as a public forum, with the emphasis on education and civil conversation.

Former Park City Councilman and County Commissioner Bob Richer will act as moderator for the event. Scheduled panelists are: County Engineer Leslie Crawford, Community Development Director Pat Putt, County Councilman Chris Robinson, former Park City Mayor Dana Williams, Mike Goar, who is the chief operating officer for Keystone Resort in Summit County, Colorado, Ted McAleer, who is the executive director of USTAR, and Rory Murphy, a Park City Developer.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Drive, in Park City.

"There are a lot of critical issues right now and a lot of critical things are happening, such as transportation problems and affordable housing, and a feeling that growth perhaps will be supercharged in the coming years," Richer said.

The Park City Project for Deeper Understanding, a citizen’s committee that is hosting the event, chose the topic, "Sustainability and Transformation: What is the Future of Summit County?" in the hopes of drawing our diverse opinions about some of the major challenges facing the community.

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The discussion, which is part of the committee’s seasonal series of forums and lectures, will cover one of the broader topics ever discussed at one of the panels.

"How successful have we been in the last 35 years, in terms of people knowing about and buying into Park City versus our quality of life?" Richer asked. "If we want certain things, what are we willing to give up to achieve those?"

The committee’s goal for the evening is to create a civil discussion between attendees and panelists.

During the first hour, Richer will ask panelists questions in a manner that encourages them to engage in discussion with fellow panelists and audience members. For the rest of the evening, the panelists will take comments and questions from the audience.

"It’s a way to have community discussions that are civil, unlike on the national stage where people are not listening to each other and they are just talking at each other," Richer said. "We are trying to talk with each other and understand other points of view.

"For some people who are relatively new to our community, I would hope that this would educate and inform them," he added. "For people who have been here for a long time, they have a historic perspective to add."

Summit County is a "special place because we have a lot of good, smart people who are willing to devote themselves to the community," Richer said.

"And that’s what we are asking people to do," he said. "Spend two hours and devote your time and energy to the discussion."

The Project for Deeper Understanding’s mission is to identify potentially divisive issues in the community, said Rev. Charles Robinson, who organized the event. He said the chosen topic is one that has been discussed since he came to Park City.

"It came roaring back into the foreground because of the Vail takeover and everybody is noticing how things are ramping up in terms of congestion," he said. "The team thought it would be time to revisit this topic once again and see if we can have respectful conversation.

"The concept behind this is not to persuade someone else to change their mind, but to learn from the person who disagrees," he said.

It’s time for the residents to be clear about what they want for the future, Robinson said.

"I want us to be clearer about what we really want in terms of limits on future development and construction," he said. "The transformation is happening and everybody is affected. Every citizen in Summit County has a legitimate motivation for being part of this conversation.

"It’s been an incredibly wonderful thing to see men and women with differing opinions come together and listen to each other," he added.

The event is free and open to the public. Since its inception in 2007, the Park City Project for Deeper Understanding has hosted several forums a year on varying topics.