Guest editorial: Community engagement is critical to successful plan for Kimball Junction
Kimball Junction. It’s the gateway from a heavily populated valley and international airport to our world-class ski resorts and hundreds of miles of mountain biking/hiking trails, to a best-in-the-country town, the annual Sundance Film Festival and many more major cultural and athletic events. Kimball Junction. All of us in Park City and the Snyderville Basin have a stake in it. It’s where many of us live, work, shop and dine. For all of us, it’s a place we travel through on our way to most anyplace else. And that makes its future a very big deal.
In a process now underway, Summit County officials are considering a zoning change for Kimball Junction from Community Commercial to Mixed Use. Planners say this re-designation will allow them to “redesign it based upon people-oriented principles,” “make a neighborhood out of a hodgepodge” and transform it from a “pedestrian hostile place to one that is pedestrian friendly.” It will take many, many years; this is a plan for the future.
To learn more, check out a draft of the Kimball Junction Neighborhood Master Plan on the county’s website. The report is interesting. Text, photos and drawings on every page make it a pretty quick read. It’s clear that Kimball Junction could look and function very differently than it does today.
The plan was drafted by the Kimball Junction Neighborhood Master Plan Committee over the course of 18 months and submitted, by them, to the county planning board for their endorsement at a meeting and public hearing held on Feb. 12. Many attendees complained about the lack of residents’ involvement in the plan’s development. They raised serious concerns about population and density. The commissioners, however, liked the draft well enough to send it to the County Council for discussion. The Council has scheduled a “work session” for Wednesday, April 10, at the Sheldon Richins Building, subject to change. The public is invited; however, this is not a public hearing. One or more of those will be scheduled after open houses are held. These will allow residents to learn more, ask questions and voice concerns. I’m counting on the county to heavily publicize these. I’m hoping a crowd of folks will attend and give their input.
Community engagement is written all over the plan. Here is a quote. “Successful plans must always include a quality neighborhood engagement effort. Plans fail when property owners, neighborhood residents, and other important community stakeholders feel left out of the planning and design implementation process.”
I was fascinated by how the draft plan described creating a “people-oriented environment” at the Junction. I live in the Foxpoint neighborhood in Redstone and we bike, walk and ride a bus to most of the places we want to go. It’s no surprise that one of my favorite sentences in the plan is, “The goal (of a people-oriented design) should be to accommodate vehicles in an environment built for people.”
I liked what I saw and read about wide sidewalks, connectivity, landscaping, bike lanes and public gathering spaces. I didn’t much like the parts about parking garages, increased building height and density. I think there will be public opposition to these things requiring a lot of explaining by the county.
Listen for information about public engagement opportunities on KPCW this spring, look for articles/ads in The Park Record and for flyers that may be posted in the area. Keep in mind, scheduled times for Kimball Junction discussions by the County Council may change based upon its updated agendas.
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“[I]t looks like we’ll be stuck with a blighted building … on the gateway road into our otherwise scenic resort town,” writes Beth in a guest editorial. But, she argues, it doesn’t have to be that way.