Guest opinion: Proposed Kimball Junction project has a high bar to clear
This is my personal opinion and does not represent a position of the Park City Council where I serve as an elected representative of Park City residents.
Recognizing there will be development and growth, I honestly don’t know what could be better than a project that has been approved, but not built, such as the Kimball Junction Tech Park.
Summit County residents consistently call for a halt to growth even while acknowledging a halt is impossible given the strong state support for property rights and the already-entitled and yet-to-be-built tens of thousands of units in the county. This leaves “smart” or “slow” growth as the best possible options we can hope or ask for, and try to achieve.
I am a fan of the “smart” concept where existing entitlements are repurposed from a high intensity/community impact to a use that results in significant community benefit, and I can see how the new Tech Park application tries to go down this path. The problem I find with this attempt is I really like the existing approved Tech Park project … as is.
I believe the currently approved Tech Park has, and continues to, succeed at delivering significant community benefit. In addition to the many aspects cited by other residents as examples of already-realized success such as building the affordable housing obligation upfront, the tunnel under S.R. 224, the prospect of bringing higher paying jobs than many of those in the local service/resort/hospitality sector, being contiguous to support commercial and a transit center, and the protection of open space, I think the best reason is what has not been delivered, the traffic and congestion that will come with full build-out of any project of this size.
With only Skullcandy and the Visitor Center having been constructed in the last 12 years, the traffic and congestion impacts are a fraction of what they will be under any plan at full build-out. This delay has not only bought time to plan and work with UDOT for Kimball Junction traffic and congestion measures but also postponed the inevitable additional traffic associated with all development and growth that will be borne by residents and guests. Additional traffic the area cannot withstand, obvious to anyone who travels into, out of, or through Kimball Junction any time, day, or month of the year.
This leaves me wondering why a proposal that enables and facilitates a much faster path to full build-out is viewed as a “fix?” What gets fixed by speeding up development that results in traffic and congestion sooner? What’s better than delaying those traffic impacts indefinitely? I see this as a very high bar to clear and is why, for me, the approved, and yet to be built, Kimball Junction Tech Park is my favorite development in all of Summit County.
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“We the people are not being represented here,” writes Rich Wyman regarding Park City’s proposed soils repository in Quinn’s Junction.