Nuking Kimball Junction
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March 24, 2017
Summit County has obtained nuclear weapons, and is preparing to use them.
I know we are living in a fact-free world these days, but consider the evidence. The County is forming a "Blue Ribbon Commission" to develop a master plan for Kimball Junction, extending from the Outlet Mall to Redstone.
My initial reaction to that announcement was, "where were you 30 years ago?" It's pretty much built out, aside from a ridiculous amount of office space at the Boyer Tech Park that will rely on employees driving up from Salt Lake. There's not a lot of land left.
Councilman Roger Armstrong was quoted in the paper as saying the Kimball Junction area "is already quite challenging in terms of traffic." Nothing gets past him.
Now the County says we have a chance to get it right. It’s clear that they intend to blow it up and start over.
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So they want to study things like connectivity and circulation. Those are big issues. If you have errands that take you from, say, the banks at Kimball, to Petco, to the barber shop, and the grocery store, with lunch at any number of glamorous fast food emporia, which are all within walking distance of each other, it can't be done. You would be insane to attempt that mission on foot. It's life threatening in a car, and suicidal on foot. You want the biggest SUV you can get, with armor-plated doors. And you would need to allow 15 minutes to make the 200-yard drive. If your list required you to go across 224 to Staples or Wally-world, you'd best notify your next of kin.
So I'm all for a Blue Ribbon Commission to come up with a plan to tame the chaos. I've developed my own master plan for dealing with retail at Kimball Junction: I shop in Heber.
I suppose they could improve Kimball by rearranging the parking lots so there were functional through streets, normal intersections and clear pathways to get from point A to B without being run over. This is about the third attempt to "fix" it.
The wise Council member went on, "The Kimball Junction area is essentially the heart of the West Side and the center of everything right now. We have an opportunity to get it right." And that's the conclusive proof that they are going to nuke Kimball Junction and start over.
Packing more density into the Tech Park, with all the commuter traffic it will generate, seems like an odd solution to our problems. Sticking Whole Foods on a street that is already over capacity didn't solve it, much to our surprise. It seems unlikely that rearranging the grass berms that randomly slice the parking areas into a puzzling maze will really solve it. Rebuilding the freeway ramp so it doesn't conflict with local traffic will cost millions.
The only solution to Kimball Junction is to scrape it off and start over again. It looked pretty good with cows on it. It might be possible to redesign it with a normal street system with an underpass for local cross traffic to get across 224. But 20 or 30 years of almost aggressively bad planning has stuck strip malls where there should be streets, and grassy berms, covered with impenetrable mountains of gritty snow plowed off the parking lots, where there should be walkways. There are a few small patches of inviting areas, but they stand out like oases in a hostile wasteland of bad strip mall design.
Now the County says we have a chance to get it right. It's clear that they intend to blow it up and start over.
On other fronts, there has been a lot of discussion about how the Russians might have influenced our election by spreading fake news stories that we believed and based voting decisions on. There is a lot of hand wringing about how to stop them. Here's an idea. We need to quit being stupid, gullible, suckers. When you see something presented as fact, like Summit County having nuclear weapons, you really should pause and give it some critical thought. Here's another example. During the Super Bowl build up, it was widely reported that Americans would drink 325.5 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. That figure was published everywhere.
That's impossible. There are about 325 million people in the U.S. A lot of them are children, who presumably were not each guzzling a gallon of beer during the game. There were others who don't care about football and didn't participate. Not everybody drinks beer. So when it is presented that every man, woman and child in the county downed a gallon of beer, or when reallocated among those who drank any, maybe a third of the country drank a bladder-busting 3 gallons of beer, it just doesn't seem reasonable. The brewers later said it was really about a 116 gallons.
We all have a civic responsibility to be a little skeptical.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.