Letters, Jan. 13-15: Build the arts and culture district, but it should finance itself
The art of sustainable tourism
“Sustainable Tourism” is one of the most popular ideas to emerge from Park City’s 2020 visioning process. Everybody loves it and wants it … if only we knew what it is. It seems to have something to do with tourism conforming to and strengthening local values, such as social equity and environmental sustainability.
I propose here another specific, measurable aspect of sustainable tourism: It does not take direct public subsidy. That is, it is financially self-supporting, not requiring assistance from local property taxation. Hold that thought a moment.
So, let’s discuss the evolving arts and culture district from this perspective. Although we call it a “district,” it is really about two big and growing dogs, Sundance Institute and Kimball Art Center, both of which happen to need permanent, statement headquarters facilities.
They are arts organizations, one might point out, not tourism enterprises. But think again. Both their operations depend almost entirely on big national festivals that bring tens of thousands of “arts tourists” to Park City. With huge revenue, employment in the dozens and major footprints, the distinction between arts nonprofit and tourism business becomes kind of fuzzy. What about the various local amenities proposed for the district? The public spaces, classrooms, food services, transit features, affordable housing, etc.? They are nice effects of planning the district, but they are not the causes. Kimball and Sundance are the causes, and without them there would not be a district.
The arts and culture district is one of the major opportunities the community will ever have to practice sustainable tourism — and Park City Municipal’s idea of floating a general obligation (property tax) bond to finance it is NOT compatible with sustainable tourism.
The district would be an amazing amenity to local life, but it should finance itself. If the city wants to assist financing, figure out a way to make it a revenue bond. There are millions in sales, donations, grants and fees passing through these organizations every year, and it ought to be possible to earmark some of it for paying off a bond, and to find other non-public pockets.
This project is not open space, infrastructure, essential service or education. It is a tourism business and financing it from taxpayer pockets is not sustainable.
Who we are as a nation
I wish that politicians and pundits would stop making those empty pronouncements on how “This is not who we are” as Americans. Re-writing history, downplaying historical events and overlooking the facts of our trajectory as a nation serves no good purpose. This country was colonized, settled and founded on a violence so profound it illuminates how astonishing it is that a constitutional democracy was established at all. Throughout the following centuries of our existence, violence towards fellow citizens and others was so prevalent it was systematically weaponized into government — broken treaties with Native Americans; runaway slave bounty hunter protections; organized labor head busting; dogs, gas and batons on civil rights marchers. On the very day 50,000 Jews were exterminated in Europe, Madison Square Garden hosted the largest Nazi rally ever held in North America. I can do this all day. And yes, there are the “thousand points of light” sprinkled in the telling of our nation’s history contributing no small benefit to a civil society. I am old enough, however, to remember that just a decade after WWII, politicians and pundits were chest beating American Exceptionalism that “it couldn’t happen here.” At the risk of poorly paraphrasing Mark Twain: History doesn’t repeat itself, it NEVER rhymes, but very often rears up its ugly head in the places least expected.
Brought to you by Deer Valley
We wish to publicly thank the Deer Valley Resort ski patrol for their extraordinary response which saved Richard’s life on Monday, Jan. 4. Their expert and quick response was amazing. When Richard was standing in line at Carpenter lift and unexpectedly lost consciousness due to arrhythmia, the ski patrol was there doing CPR before I even realized what had happened. Their immediate access to a defibrillator and expertise in application saved his life. By the time he was being carried to the fire department ambulance, he was already talking with the ski patrollers. He was given excellent emergency medical care by the Park City Fire District and the team at University Hospital’s cardiac unit and miraculously was home by Friday.
In this time of COVID, the Deer Valley ski patrol’s selfless and quick actions are even more incredible.
From this day forth, we will always think of Richard Sheinberg as brought to you by Deer Valley.
With enormous appreciation,
Problem is artificial
Artificial light at night (ALAN) contaminates 88% of the Earth’s surface and it’s increasing, even though it destroys ecosystems and threatens human health.
ALAN disrupts hormones. It promotes obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. High exposure to ALAN increases the risk of hormonal cancers, like breast and prostate cancer. ALAN may impair fertility. ALAN interferes with cortisone metabolism resulting in mood disorders.
ALAN suppresses melatonin, a hormone needed for restorative sleep, but also essential to skeletal, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive function.
ALAN injures the lens and retina of the eyes, causing cataracts, macular degeneration and blindness.
ALAN has negative impacts on agriculture, wildlife reproduction, songbird migration, plant pollination, coral reef formation and numerous other critical aspects of our ecosystems. ALAN has caused changes in the immune function of bats, making them more susceptible to viruses like COVID-19. It’s unknown if ALAN may be making humans more susceptible to viruses.
ALAN is a colossal waste of limited energy resources that should be conserved for beneficial purposes. ALAN not only isn’t beneficial, it’s harmful to plants and animals.
Light pollution is the easiest pollution to mitigate. Park City could still display its festive lighting on winter evenings and have spectacular starry skies for the rest of the night.
The Park City Council will be discussing a night sky initiative on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. The Planning Commission will be discussing the proposed night sky code on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 5:30 p.m. For virtual access to meetings, visit parkcity.org/public-meetings.
For more information about the local night sky initiative, go to parkcity.org/departments/planning/dark-sky-lighting-land-management-code-amendments.
Learn about how to protect your vision from artificial blue light at health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side.
To see extraordinary stars in Utah that you currently cannot see in Park City, check out visitutah.com/places-to-go/dark-sky-parks.
To access thousands of scientific studies of ALAN, enter “artificial light at night” in the search bar at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/.
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