Guest opinion: More accountability needed from City Hall
Tom Clyde’s May 8 column was (once again!) spot on. Among other points, he highlights a continuing lack of transparency from the mayor’s office to the residents of Park City. We’re a small mountain town — it need not be this tough.
Mr. Clyde notes that our mayor and City Council have already OKd the recent dumping of 35,000 cubic yards of toxic dirt on the city-owned land along S.R. 248 (across from the water treatment plant, no less!), which is incredible, especially for an administration that prides itself on its commitment to environmental priorities. Where was the public discussion on use of this site for toxic waste? No so-called “protective liner” has been installed as of yet (per Mr. Clyde’s piece, it is “on order”). And only just recently do they get around to fully letting the residents know of this future potential “Love Canal-like” waste site (younger readers can look that one up). I have no idea of the useful life for the “liner” planned for this site in Park City but, at some point, it could degrade and give way — and future generations will have to deal with a toxic cleanup and water contamination. We need a public hearing before this goes one further step forward.
For some reason, our good mayor finds it inconvenient to be transparent on various things. One prominent example: He decides, without any public discussion, that a Black Lives Matter mural is appropriate right in the middle of Main Street (and spends $15,000 of taxpayer money to allow it). No permits, no discussion. And virtual “radio silence” from the mayor on the topic since.
Second, together with the City Council, they feel that an “arts district” is critically important to Park City’s future vitality and culture. With minimal public debate, they purchase the land and proceed to tear down the existing structures. Do we know the total cost of this huge project? Is there a master plan that has been fully vetted by the taxpayers? Can we afford this $100 million-plus project? Were they surprised to learn that some of the associated soil had toxic tailings? No, no, no and no! Once again, Mayor Beerman apparently feels that he knows best, that there is no need for open, transparent public discussions before clearing the site! If eventually it is determined that we cannot afford it or there is too much public opposition, will we be looking at an eyesore of empty lots along Bonanza Drive for years to come?
We seem to be living with a lack of transparency and a lack of public referendums on key topics, because our mayor and City Council feel that they are fully empowered to make such decisions largely on their own. We deserve better — and far more accountability. A critical election for Park City looms in November. Residents within the city need to think long and hard as to whether this is the type of leadership they want and deserve.
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“I am concerned with reliance on the information coming from the ‘professional consultants’ without challenging or exploring the critical underlying assumptions driving their analyses,” writes Old Town resident David Gordon about the proposed PCMR project.