Walking bond heralded | ParkRecord.com

Walking bond heralded

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Parkites might have a chance to decide at the ballot box how much they want to spend to make Park City more attractive to pedestrians, bicyclists and others not driving cars.

The Park City Council, responding positively to the wishes of many Parkites, is considering whether to ask voters to approve a bond on Election Day. The elected officials have listened attentively for months to lots of Parkites who want improvements and the talks have been well received by people who live in the city.

The Parkites, meanwhile, have been happy with the vision and the receptiveness of City Hall, which says making the city more pedestrian friendly is smart. The officials say Park City will be better off because fewer people will be driving, reducing traffic and helping the environment. Making Park City greener has long been a goal of the city’s elected officials, who are enjoying widespread popularity.

And Park City voters have a tradition of overwhelmingly supporting City Hall’s ideas, including approving previous bonds for open space and recreation, two things cherished in the city. It seems that lots of people in the city could be interested if a new bond is put on the ballot.

The details are not decided but the City Council has started talks about a bond and a survey of Parkites is planned to gauge whether they are interested. The local government is expected to provide more information later.

Carol Potter, who is the leader of Mountain Trails Foundation, a widely supported not-for-profit advocacy group, cheers the prospects of a bond. She says the talks during the past few months about the issue were a wonderful public process. She says Park City perhaps has the greatest backcountry trails system but says better connections are needed.

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She says revenues from a bond could be used well.

"A bond could solve the big-dollar things that could connect Park City," Potter says.

Potter talks about improvements many Parkites said they hope are done. She says, perhaps, bond revenues could fund building a tunnel underneath Bonanza Drive. Many people are worried about crossing the busy street and a tunnel potentially could make them happy.

"Park City cherishes our trails and open space. That falls into the connections, the walkability, the bike routes," she says.

Potter touts the ability to travel long distances off the street on the West Side if such a tunnel is built.

"You could go from the Marsac Building all the way out to Quinn’s," Potter says. "You could send your 12-year-old and not even think about it."

City Hall outlines a schedule starting on July 12, when the city expects to determine what projects could use bond money and their price tags. On Aug. 16, the City Council could decide whether to put the bond on the ballot. If so, a pamphlet explaining the bond would be mailed on Oct. 15 and Election Day is Nov. 6.

In a report to Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council, City Hall staffers say "a November election would build on the momentum of the recently-completed Walkability Study" and that a bond would allow Parkites to determine if they want the pricier improvements done.

In the report, City Hall staffers highlight the reconstruction of Little Kate Road and an underpass on S.R. 248 as potential projects that could receive funding. If so, lots of people in Park City would probably be enthusiastic supporters, especially if work is done on S.R. 248, which is part of the state highway system and called Kearns Boulevard in Park City.

The staffers note, though, the time between now and November is short to tell voters about the bond and decide what projects to pursue and that a bond this year would follow one year after a $20 million open-space bond.

Another supporter is Carolyn Frankenburg, who spearheads a group of activists known as the Coalition for Safe Streets. Her group is popular with Parkites and is well received by the local government.

She says a bond would be good for everyone in Park City. She talks about benefits like fewer drivers, less pollution, increasing property values and a boost for business. She notes Parkites’ support of the other bonds.

"Who is it not good for?" she says. "It’s good for everybody."

Frankenburg expects lots of Parkites will support City Hall’s ballot measure and predicts it will pass if it is put to voters.

"I think this is what people want," she says. "This is what people are striving for."

And Potter agrees. She says people in the city are changing their habits.

"I think it’s the whole town . . . I’d say culture change is going on in Park City," she says. "We really are changing the culture here."