Guest editorial: Arlene Loble was a superstar |

Guest editorial: Arlene Loble was a superstar

Blair Feulner
Founder, KPCW Radio

In September of 1972, the Park City Council hired the assistant city manager of Aspen, Colorado as the town’s first professional city manager. Since, at the time, Park City aspired to be “the next Aspen,” it seemed like an inspired hire.

But less than a month later (apparently horrified by the magnitude of the problems facing Park City), he turned tail and fled back to Aspen and his old job. And who could blame him? Five decades ago Park City was a wannabe-world-class-resort with a third world infrastructure.

The town’s crumbling water system had sprung so many leaks members of the volunteer fire department would scramble to a fire only to stand by helplessly because there was insufficient water pressure to fight the blaze. “We’ve never lost a lot,” was their self-effacing motto.

But that’s not all.

The other end of the pipe also sucked. The town’s ancient sewer treatment plant poured toxic sludge into the aptly named Poison Creek, creating algae blooms downstream in East Canyon, while the State Health Department threatened to slap a building moratorium on new construction.

But that’s not all.

That wasn’t the only thing that smelled — many citizens held City Hall in equally bad odor. For instance, every contractor in town knew they could buy bogus building inspections with a couple of scotch/rocks, sight unseen.

And then there was the Cop Shop…

Walk into any Main Street drinking establishment and observe patrons cheerfully snorting coke off the bar; hit the head and be instantly stoned from second-hand THC. Yet The Park Record’s police blotter was remarkably free of drug busts, leading citizens to wonder if the cops were (at best) being paid to look the other way or (at worst) were dealing themselves.

Enter Arlene Loble, considered by many to be the Mother of Modern Day Park City.

Hired as city manager in 1980, Arlene did two monumental things for the town.

First, she hired a staff of talented professionals and empowered them to clean up the mess. Secondly, perhaps most importantly, she created a corporate culture of transparency at City Hall.

Every Thursday at 8:30 a.m. (for 7 years), she would show up at KPCW’s studios for an interview (with me) during which she’d tell listeners what was on the agenda for that night’s city council meeting and explain why it was important they show up and be heard.

Arlene Loble was transparent before transparency was cool.

At the same time President Ronald Reagan was preaching government was the problem, Arlene Loble’s government was infusing Park City residents with a sense of ownership, empowering them to solve the town’s problems and make Park City Great Again.

Newcomers to Park City always marvel at how well informed and involved its citizens are. That’s the Arlene Loble Legacy.

(Having a local public radio station helped, too.)

With the help of hundreds of Park City residents, Blair Feulner signed KPCW radio on the air July 2, 1980. He was station manager and hosted the 8-10 a.m. local news show for 30 years.

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