Guest editorial: Summit County community outreach is example of democracy in action
Recently I had a great 24 hours engaging with my elected county representatives and county officials in ways that were respectful, cooperative and, ultimately, productive. Thank you to Summit County Councilors and officials for hosting a series of “Conversations with Council” on the east and west sides of the County. The event at the Sheldon Richins Building on Thursday morning from 7-9 a.m. was lively and educational. You couldn’t attend without learning something important about one, more or all the projects the county folks came to show and tell us about. I learned more about transportation, fire safety, the Jeremy Ranch interchange, the Kimball Junction Master Plan and Basin Rec trails. There were drawings, maps, handouts and a large screen video to look at — all interesting stuff. I asked questions galore; many times I said, “I didn’t know that.” And then, I got answers.
Specific “thank yous” to attending County Councilors Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson; County Manager Tom Fisher and Deputy County Manager Janna White; Community Development Planners Pat Putt and Peter Barnes; Transportation Planning Director Caroline Rodriquez; Public Works Manager Derrick Radke; Fire Warden Bryce Boyer; Finance Manager Matt Levitt; Economic Development Director Jeff Jones; and Solid Waste Supervisor Tim Loveday. A special thanks to Krachel Greenwood, the county’s public information officer, for her part in getting the word out about scheduled county public events via KPCW, The Park Record, Next Door and Facebook, as well as flyers hung in popular spots throughout the community. To do a good job communicating with the public, you have to keep at it; you need to get the word out in any way you can think of.
Thank you to Basin Rec staffers Melissa O’Brien, Ben Liegert and Randy Kadziel who also attended the gathering. I shared my thoughts with the Basin’s board last night. I know, because of the Basin’s efforts, we will have a safer stretch of Swaner Trail moving people immediately past the very dense communities of Newpark Townhomes and Foxpoint Condominiums. A special thanks to Ben for walking this stretch of trail with me, listening to my safety concerns and, subsequently, discussing installation of stricter speed limit signs with his Basin colleagues. The signs arrive next week; look for them and … obey the speed limit! And again, thank you to the Basin Trails and county transportation folks for collaborating and coming up with a way to automatically slow the speed of county e-bikes on this high-use stretch through the use of virtual technology. Thank you for putting stricter signs at e-bike stations which emphasize bikes are for riders over 18 years old PERIOD.
I request county representatives and officials increase their focus on public education and engagement through well-publicized open houses and other gatherings, like this week’s Conversations event. I request that they share their plans and projects with us well in advance of making their final decisions. Public complaints based upon incorrect or lack of information are worthless. It takes a real willingness to engage from both “parties” — county officials and county residents — in order to create an informed public whose input is respectful, cooperative and, ultimately, productive.
I’m looking forward to three additional events the Council has scheduled to educate and engage the public in planning the future Kimball Junction. These will be held on the morning of Wednesday, May 22, at Park City Roasters; the evening of Wednesday, May 29, at the Kimball Junction transit center, and the evening of Wednesday, June 5, at Ecker Hill Middle School immediately before a regularly scheduled Council meeting. Kimball Junction is the really big gateway to everything Park City. It’s where some of us live and work; it’s where all of us play, eat and shop. Stay tuned, agree, disagree, compromise. Don’t expect to get all you want all the time.
This is the way democracy is supposed to work.