City, county make the right call to stay with Mountain Accord
The Park Record editorial, June 17-20, 2017
The long-running Mountain Accord initiative is changing its name and structure and that has raised serious concerns among some of the original stakeholders in the process — most notably Summit County and Park City.
The need for a new framework represents a shift from commissioning studies to developing specific plans for the critical swath of mountain terrain that connects the growing cities on Wasatch Front with the resort-based towns along the Wasatch Back.
Recently, city and county council members were asked to vote on whether to approve an interlocal agreement creating a Central Wasatch Commission, a new entity with the legal lifting muscles to finance the Accords lofty goals.
With an overarching mission to protect the areas natural ecosystem, the Central Wasatch Commission will be charged with developing a transportation master plan that reduces vehicle traffic while increasing human-powered alternatives like hiking and biking. It will also tackle visitor use and recreation amenities, while at the same time keeping a watchful eye on the watershed and wildlife.
Participants in the interlocal agreement already include Cottonwood Heights, Draper City, the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy, Sandy City, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, the Town of Alta, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority and the Wasatch Front Regional Council.
Park City Council members approved the agreement unanimously on June 8. The measure had a tougher time earning county support, in part because it came with a $100,000 price tag.
But of greater concern, for at least two county councilors, was the potential loss of representation on the new commissions board. County council members Roger Armstrong and Doug Clyde voted against the countys involvement in the interlocal agreement.
Their concerns mirror many of the debates during the early Accord public meetings. They worry that the voices on the Wasatch Back will be overwhelmed by the mounting urban pressure from the Wasatch Front.
And their concerns may well prove to be valid. But that seems to lend even more urgency to the argument for staying involved in the process.
The county made the right decision to approve the interlocal agreement, which now includes a representative from the Wasatch Back on the Central Wasatch Commission and on the stakeholders advisory board. The countys support of the measure this week also included approval of the previously committed $100,000 installment of funding for the I-80 transportation corridor study that puts State Road 224, including the heavily traveled section from Kimball Junction to Kearns Boulevard, in line for future federal funding.
Ponying up the pre-pledged funds and maintaining an active role in this big — albeit complicated –regional planning effort is paramount in preserving our beloved Wasatch Mountains.