Amy Roberts: Roger that
I have been fairly mum on the proposed Dakota Pacific Real Estate project. Mostly because barrels of ink have already been devoted to why it’s a horrible idea. If the volume of letters to the editor opposing the plan are any indication, the developer is the only one in favor of it. Well, the developer and most of the County Council.
The council is poised to amend the current development agreement, which would allow Dakota Pacific to add an additional 1,100 residential units, a hotel, plus office and commercial space at Kimball Junction. Assuming these 1,100 homes house three people each, that’s a few thousand cars being added to an already inundated intersection. It’s also fair to assume some of those residents will be under the age of 18, and it’s doubtful most will be homeschooled. But there’s no accounting for how the school district will have to make room for several hundred more students either.
The Snyderville Basin Planning Commission forwarded a negative recommendation to the County Council on the project, the former county officials who created the original agreement for the land in 2008 are opposed to the plan, and residents are unified in their overwhelming “hell no” response. There’s a Change.org petition with over 3,600 signatures — that’s about one signature for each new resident and car this project would bring to Kimball Junction. There’s also a formal opposition group assembled and organizers say they’ve raised a sizeable amount of money to take this to court should the project move forward. Despite all this, Councilman Roger Armstrong is so far the only member to question the plan or show any indication he’s listening to his constituents. Which is where another maddening issue comes in.
Throughout Park City’s mayoral campaign, much of the County Council endorsed Nann Worel. Their reasoning, they said, was because she listens. Members who supported Nann claimed they were critical of current Mayor Andy Beerman because he was unwilling to consider other viewpoints. In a guest editorial in this very paper, three County Council members co-authored a letter with statements like: “Listening to constituents cannot stop when the campaign is complete and successful … Clear, transparent communication from elected officials to constituents is fundamental to good governance, as is the willingness to invite, listen to and consider public input … From our perspective, Mayor Beerman charted a more insular path on a variety of issues.”
That was their main beef with Andy. They said he didn’t listen and did what he felt was right regardless of feedback. And yet here we are, with thousands of residents vocally opposing a project and four County Council members sticking their fingers in their ears. The hypocrisy is so thick, they’re going to need a steak knife to cut it.
In a meeting earlier this month, Mr. Armstrong said Council Chair Glenn Wright was trying to rush the process. “We get a 103-page document on Monday afternoon to be revealed to the public on Wednesday without them having a chance to look at it, without me having a chance to look at it,” Armstrong said. “We had a 300-page packet today that landed on our desk at 1:30 on Monday. To expect anybody to have digested any of that material, to have a discussion, we’ve got to stop doing this. If you want to ram it through, Glenn, ram it through but be honest about what we’re doing. This is not the way to do it.”
In case you’re wondering, yes, Glenn Wright co-signed the letter highlighting the importance of clear and transparent government, listening to constituents and considering public input.
In that same letter, Glenn and his co-authors also stated they were supporting Nann’s mayoral bid because, “She invites public scrutiny and is willing to accept responsibility and reengage when a public process is less than complete and transparent.”
It would behoove them to remember that’s what they claim to admire and consider “a critical requirement of good governance.”
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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