Jay Meehan: Local elections came out on the side of visual breathing room
As a quorum of the then somewhat-recently anointed KPCW Board of Trustees, we had our game faces on and were preparing to head over to hit up the City Council for a bit of the ol’ legal tender. We had already received our construction permit from the FCC and were seeking funding assistance from the City Fathers to further that process.
This particular grant was to help with equipment and construction costs at our new studio site in the old projection room above the basketball court of the Memorial Building. This space, which came to be known as “the vault,” had been previously leased to us at $1-per-year by the very same officialdom, so we didn’t expect a hostile reception to our request,
But, at the same time, we were, for the most part, a ragtag ensemble and it wasn’t like our quasi-veneer of respectability featured a depth much thicker than a Zig-Zag rolling paper. We did consider ourselves an earnest bunch, however, and carried our radio bona fides on our sleeves.
Just as we were heading out the door, local real estate agent and yarn-spinner Ron Purdom, known as “Waterbed” to the Main Street cognoscenti, whispered hoarsely into my ear: “More density.” His accompanying wink acknowledged his awareness that I was pretty much against growth of any sort in Park City and that my clout with the Council would be minimal.
Although “Bed” and I were fairly close friends, we were polar opposites on the question of holding on to whatever open space remained in the community. We bonded over Western swing music and classic watering holes and most often tried to keep our banter focused thereon.
Suffice to say the City Council and the community at large, for that matter, were then as they are resoundingly so now, highly supportive of their local radio station. But, over time, Waterbed also got his wish for more density. Patience most often wins out. And capitalism, like Coyote, waits.
That is why it was rather refreshing to see the local open space bond proposals pass in the recent elections. Although there was a coming together of all sides, the grassroots efforts played no small part. Wasatch County, Midway, and Park City all came out on the side of visual breathing room.
The time when yellow iron began rumbling into what is now Park Meadows and was then the Church Farm remains quite vivid in my recall lobes. I saw it in terms of Kit Carson versus the Navajos at “Canyon del Muerte.” Admittedly, I’m the dramatic sort.
Not that I think any less of my many brothers and sisters in arms involved in the real state trade. For the most part, they have more integrity than I. I truly love them dearly and the Wasatch Back is fortunate to have as many eco-friendly land-hawkers as we do.
But, that being said, I still enjoy each and every open-space land skirmish that avails itself to the wannabe-radical within. Although Heber had nothing on the ballot to match the enormity of Park City’s Treasure bond, to many of us, still stinging and battered from the trenches of the Wall Mart siege, saving the North Fields felt like a shower on the inside.
There are still issues aplenty over Wasatch County way that get many folks dander up on both sides of whatever land use bone-of-contention is on the table. It’s not like I represent the majority school of political thought hereabouts. Quite the antitheses, as W.C. Fields used to say. But, as I can’t carry a tune, why should I sing to the choir.
And, anyway, I’ve always got peripheral battles that need waging if for no other reason than to refuel dislike for opposing mindsets. Alta’s cave-in to corporate players on Grizzly Gulch still stings – as does the skin-flaying pain that accompanied Trump’s legalizing the raping and pillaging of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments.
Will I ever come around to enjoying ATVs, snowmobiles, and cattle on public lands? I doubt it. It’s just that the notion of having noise-and-erosion-free zones available for my therapeutic needs waves a siren’s call. That allure, not unlike others that keep me awake at night, endures.
I truly believe one’s view on the “sacredness” of land comes down to whether one experiences it via motorized transport (toys, if you will) or hiking boots. There’s nothing quite like communing with a small-in-size-but-huge-otherwise Manzanita bush flaunting its glory from an almost hidden perch on an obscure edge of the Grand Canyon.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years