Jay Meehan: Mountain meddling
So, just for argument’s sake, let’s say that I’m a grumpy old cynic who believes that our current form of top-heavy capitalism is pretty much crushing democracy, as we know it.
I mean, if the ongoing "Walmartization" of the Wasatch has shown me anything, it’s that money not only talks, it bellows. Even when clothed in "Lederhosen" as a European model "yodel," the intended harmony is still the "ka-ching" of the cash register with, notwithstanding the promises of developers, little or no "trickle down" effect.
I know, cynicism doesn’t have much of a history solving problems. It’s the coward’s way out. OK, I buy that. It’s just that I can’t remember the last time a grassroots movement of any size didn’t get steamrolled by the monolith that is big business.
Although, come to think of it, "SkiLink" certainly got sent back to the drawing board in a hurry — if only to be replaced by the even larger and more intrusive "One Wasatch" concept. As if the shuffling of public and private lands was going to alter the backcountry ski experience. Peace and quiet is getting as scarce as clean water.
This is not to say that the marketing arms of "One Wasatch" and "Mountain Accord," the seemingly all-encompassing master plan for the Wasatch, haven’t been going through the motions of providing public forums in which those with opposing views can vent and pose questions.
As far as Mountain Accord goes, however, time is running out for cynics and non-cynics alike to get their opinions on the record. With the input deadline of March 16 quickly approaching, a visit to "mountainaccord.com" might well be in order. Involving oneself in the process doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to relinquish your official "Cynic" identification card. So far, they haven’t come after mine, anyway.
I suppose the concept that, for me anyway, overshadows all others in the Mountain Accord proposal would be the amount of tunneling through the Wasatch Range that would be required to fulfill the light-rail portion of the plan. I, for one, certainly don’t rule out that the powers-that-be would be able to push such an idea through the various watchdog committees currently in place.
The sheer accumulation of changes that are currently on the various tables is overwhelming. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn that my ongoing fear of change is what’s actually driving this particular whine.
It must be said, however, that for the most part, over time, I have pretty much come to terms with both the void left by the disappearance of Art Durante’s Main Street Hardware from Old Town and, back in the dark ages, the construction of a floor in the old Rusty Nail Lounge up at the Treasure Mountain Resort that precluded the tossing of pretzels at friends dining in the cafeteria below.
But back at the One Wasatch ranch, the developers are trying to sell me-and-my-kind on the fact that it’s only a few posts in the ground here and there, as if the support system of additional roads, maintenance facilities, and snowmobile traffic won’t come into play at all.
I used to think they were all just allergic to "quiet," to the absence of the ever-present cacophony of the urban experience. And that very well may be true. But something tells me it’s more than that. I’m now coming to believe that many in their camp simply cannot live with the thought of anything existing outside their control, especially nature.
The truth is, that with a gospel of "grow or die," they are never satisfied. Even if they succeed in criss-crossing the Wasatch with lifts and tunnels and roads, they will always have something further up their sleeves.
Of course, Mountain Accord will manage any spillage that ensues due to unforeseen excesses in the One Wasatch model. It is being set up as a watchdog to keep an eye on the expansion of the human footprint and the sidebars created therein, isn’t it? If that gives you unbridled confidence, you obviously haven’t taken the time to, as Papa Hemingway once put it, "develop a built-in bullshit detector."
I would have to say that a good chunk of my peer group doesn’t agree with me on these issues (and much else for that matter) but, even if they just take the time to disagree, that’s healthy, that’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully left!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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