Letters: Reauthorize the RAP tax
Re-up the RAP tax
Tourism is a critical piece of our local economy. Each year over $1 billion is spent in our shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions, mostly by visitors. In addition to creating jobs in our communities, these expenditures help fund the recreation, arts and parks programs and amenities that we enjoy because of our RAP Tax. Whether you like rodeo, ice skating, ballet, trails, art, botany or local history, chances are you’ve enjoyed something funded by the RAP Tax.
Twenty years ago, Summit County residents voted to impose a local, non-food, sales and use tax of 1/10th of 1 cent to fund Recreation, Arts and Parks (RAP Tax). During this time, over $20 million in RAP grants have enabled various cultural, parks and recreational organizations throughout Summit County to improve their programs and facilities. The RAP Tax was reauthorized 10 years ago and it’s now time to renew it again.
Please join us and be sure to vote “yes” to continue investments in the programs and venues we all love so much!
Vote yes to reauthorize our valuable RAP Tax and be sure to return your ballot before Election Day, Nov. 3!
Jocelyn Scudder, executive director, Arts Council of Park City and Summit County
Peter Tomai, RAP Recreation Advisory Board
Critical opportunity lost
As the Park City School District start school as “normal,” teachers are exhausted; not from preparing for the new school year, but from trying to navigate the dizzying daily changes to opening. Initially, students and parents were given two options to return to school: online and in-person. Two weeks ago, high school teachers were told they could create their own “blended learning” model, which would allow each teacher to determine when students would be in class and online. This plan was nixed by the state Superintendent. Teachers are now responsible for conducting both in-person and online learning, doubling their workload.
Despite the extensive protective health measures the district has put in place, social distancing is not one of them. Some classes have 35 students. Couches, chairs and tables, items designed to make classrooms more comfortable and inviting, have been removed to make room for desks. Still, in some classes only 2 1/2 feet of space separate each desk. Teachers have 6 feet of space around their desks from which to teach. In addition, Park City High School has some teachers and administrators with underlying health conditions.
The Board president and superintendent have been asked to delay the start of school so that administrators and teachers can develop a hybrid plan that will allow for a safer opening. A hybrid plan would reduce the number of students within the building at a given time, thereby allowing teachers to maximize social distancing in classrooms.
Teachers recognize the urgency of getting kids back in the classroom, and the need to establish connections with them as soon as possible. With school returning as “normal,” the efforts of the Health Department and the community to contain the coronavirus will likely be undone, forcing schools to close and go fully online/remote. In doing so, teachers will have lost this critical opportunity to connect with their students in person in a safe environment.
Reopening plan falls short
I am a server in a well-known Park City haunt. Even though I do not live in town, my livelihood is tied to community happenings. It was with this in mind that I recently attended the County Council’s meeting addressing questions about the community’s plan to deal with coronavirus. During the meeting the majority of questions dealt with the reopening of schools. I was shocked to find out that the plan was not drafted by the Health Department but by the School Board. This seems akin to asking my dentist to fix my car. Upon hearing this I discovered recent legislation took power to decide on issues of public health from local health departments and placed it in the hands of school boards. Politics as usual in Utah: Exclude those that disagree with the dominant party line.
What was even more shocking was the School Board’s plan to reopen. A complete in-person return. I am not familiar with Park City’s facilities but have gone to school myself and am wondering about the logistics of this. Is social distancing even possible given class sizes? How to enforce mask mandates, proper sanitation procedures and time/personnel? Many other concerns along these lines plagued me. Park City has always been a leader among Utah’s communities. Employing strategies that take into account facts about the situations and an open ear to relevant experts. This seems like it is any but that. Other schools districts have taken approaches that seems to mitigate the risk to a much greater degree and provide for better contact tracing given the event of an outbreak. If you know how children behave or have simply been following the news, you know an outbreak is highly likely. My initial concern is for the health of the community and at-risk individuals, but more personally, when an outbreak occurs in the schools it will probably push us back into the orange phase, and I will be out of a job again. Does this plan abide by the state’s guidelines? Yes it does. But could it be better? Absolutely.
Salt Lake City
Pedals and passion
On behalf of the Bicycle Collective board of directors, staff, volunteers, clients and customers, we express our heartfelt gratitude to the three Rotary clubs of Park City. With the enthusiasm and leadership of Steve Kanten, the Sunrise, Twilight and Park City Rotary clubs collaborated, organized, promoted and executed a bike drive on Saturday, Aug. 8.
Focusing on the community, Steve engaged 11 local retail bike shops that opened their doors as collections points for donated bikes.
Residents donated more than 95 bikes that will be repaired and refurbished in the next several months and given a second home. Those that cannot be repaired will be stripped for parts and components with the remainder of material recycled. In 2019, we recycled more than 27 tons of metal and nearly 3 tons of rubber.
This community-wide contribution has a far-reaching effect on the lives of many Utah residents and supports our motto, “Recycling Bicycles. Building Communities.”
The Bicycle Collective is a group of nonprofit bike shops in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo and St. George that refurbish bicycles donated by the thousands each year and put them into the hands of those in need — focusing on children, newly resettled refugees and immigrants, individuals experiencing housing insecurity, recovering from substance abuse and low-to-moderate income households.
The community response to this pandemic is new for all of us. The Bicycle Collective and Rotary know a few things about community. Our passion for helping people and getting people on bikes has never been greater. To some, it is their only form of transportation. For others, the ability to get outside and ride a bike provides a great physical health option. Now, there is an even greater mental health benefit as people seek an alternative to quarantining indoors.
Rotarians continue to give selflessly to the community. This new partnership continues that generosity to provide meaningful impact and personifies their motto “service above self.”
Thank you for your thoughtful support and incredible enthusiasm.
Donna Matturro McAleer
Bicycle Collective executive director
Fewer people and fewer cars
A recent letter to the editor in favor of development in Kimball Junction makes several mistakes.
That letter mistakenly asserts:
There is a shortage of low- and moderate-income housing, which leads to:
• More traffic because of this lack of housing.
• We need more low-income families in the area, which in turn somehow prevents high tech/good-paying jobs from being created here.
Those points are incorrect:
• Everyone who passed Econ 101 knows that the housing supply curve and demand curve intersect at the market-clearing price. Unlike toilet paper during the early stages of the pandemic, there is no housing shortage. There is no market failure. What we do have is a surplus of too many people who wish to move here. Too many people who wish to move here does NOT mean there is a shortage of housing; all it means is there are too many people who wish to move here, period. Everyone agrees that is a bad thing. We should discourage too many people from moving here, not encourage ever more.
• Keeping the volume of housing stable does not result in more traffic. Just the opposite is true: More housing with multiple drivers per house and even more cars per driver means more traffic. More traffic is not the objective; the objective is less traffic, and we should pursue strategies and tactics designed to prevent the overrun of Park City infrastructure in the first place.
• There is no reason to attract more families regardless of economic circumstances, let alone targeting that author’s preferred low- and moderate-income families.
• Many communities in America would like to develop a “Silicon Valley”-like ecosystem. It is a very complex issue and isn’t as simple as that author’s “build more housing” policy.
We do not need more housing and more cars taxing Park City infrastructure. We need fewer people and fewer cars.
We were appalled by Jonathan Warden’s attack on the Summit County Health Department and specifically its director Dr. Rich Bullough (Letters to the editor, Aug. 15-18: “Facts above politics”). If there has been a bright spot in the pandemic, it has been the county’s rational, data-driven and nonpolitical response. There have been some difficult policy decisions driven by the disease, but they have saved lives and slowed the spread. Our county’s elected and appointed officials deserve a great deal of credit for making these hard decisions, and their work has been facilitated by Dr. Bullough’s sound, science-based advice. In a terrible crisis Dr. Bullough has been a voice of reason, educating and informing officials and residents alike and guiding us all to the most measured and effective response possible.
Remarkably, despite the overwhelming pressures of the pandemic, the Health Department has also been able to continue its important work on other fronts. The announcement that the county will soon have a mobile crisis intervention team will be a game-changer for residents who suffer mental health crises and their families. Dr. Bullough was among the earliest and most vocal proponents of more mental health services for Summit County. He and his Health Department team have kept their eye on the ball in that court, even as they have faced down the issues of the pandemic.
The pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future, but fortunately Dr. Bullough and the Health Department will carry on their yeoman service for the people of Summit County. As true professionals they will continue to work with the facts and the science to limit the impact of COVID-19 and ignore critics who try to politicize the situation and undercut them with unsubstantiated complaints.
Lynne and Ed Rutan
Goats are great
Kudos to Basin Recreation for partnering with 4 Leaf Ranch of Kamas to bring goats to Willow Creek Park for the second year in a row. For those of you who haven’t been fortunate enough to see this operation at work, get out there, as they will be grazing at Willow Creek for only a short time. Not only do the goats provide wildfire mitigation and control invasive species but they obviate the need for chemical herbicides while providing nutrition for the soil. And, their presence is a reminder of Summit County’s agricultural heritage. Thanks to our neighbors from Kamas, we Basin residents can breathe a bit easier this fire season. Please bring them back every year.
Claims don’t hold water
In response to Mark Vilnius’s letter regurgitating claims that the president is subservient to Russia’s President Putin, all I can say is that some people’s pathological dislike of President Trump is so advanced that they are beyond help. No facts or rational thought can dispel their obsession with the now-discredited Russian collusion hoax.
Despite the futility of reasoning with those who cling to the collusion fantasy, I offer the following facts. In the first three years of his term as president, Trump levied sanctions 20 times against Putin’s Russia. He expelled 60 Russian diplomats (spies), closed the Russian consulate in San Francisco (a nest of spies), sold lethal weapons to Ukraine to fend off Russian encroachment (when Obama/Biden sent blankets), boldly blamed Russia for the nerve gas attack on a Russian ex-patriot in England, forcefully criticized Russia in the United Nations, and opposed Russia’s attempt to build a natural gas pipeline to Germany. He has accepted, as we all have, (not “ignored”) that Russia (and other nations) interfered with the 2016 elections (which Obama shamefully declined to reveal prior to the election). The Brookings Institute, a liberal think tank, in 2019 credited the Trump administration with 52 policy actions adverse to Russian interests. None of these facts seem to have penetrated liberal minds.
The writer alludes to the administration’s “failure” to accept U.S. and allied intelligence that Russia pays the Taliban to kill American soldiers. In fact, that was never given any credence by the intelligence community. Perhaps we can be thankful that the writer is not in charge of our foreign relations, in spite of his prior military service. And to query whether the president is guilty of dereliction of duty is an affront to this veteran of the military. Mr. Vilnius, not only do you not speak for me, but you don’t speak for any veteran I know. However, I do look forward to seeing you around town with your too cute yellow t-shirt. I’m the guy wearing the red Make America Great hat.
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