Jay Meehan: Power trips
Up here in the foothills, we were temporarily off the grid. The local electrical utility had papered the neighborhood with flyers to the effect that, for only a few morning hours the following day, the distribution substation across the street would be shut down for maintenance. It was obviously some sort of power trip.
So, what’s a guy to do? Myself, I set up on the deck table with pair of archaic binoculars, a New York Times crossword puzzle, recent newspaper accounts of Mountain Accord and One Wasatch, half a small beer pitcher of strong and iced Kona coffee, and a relatively clear view through a notch in the roadside Quaking Aspens of the Heber Light and Power crew already well into their work.
By the time I got situated for the performance, it became evident that I had missed the planting of a new power pole and cross-arm. It might have even happened on the day before. It wasn’t like I’d shown up early for the show and got a wristband or anything. All I knew was that transformers, fuses, and, with a big reel-trailer setup on site, large conductors, would be in play.
What first got my attention were the two buckets at the end of the respective articulated arms of the "cherry picker" trucks that had been positioned within the fenced-off compound. The ballet they were performing 30 feet off the ground spoke instantly to the fact that the individual operators, with "hot sticks" at the ready, hadn’t just met in the parking lot.
The view through binoculars put you right in the middle of what, for all intents and purposes, was choreography-on-the-fly — an improvised "pas de deux" between the buckets that ranged from seemingly dancing cheek-to-cheek to performing at opposite ends of the stage. These guys had my attention. I never said it took much to entertain me!
Back at the print-media ranch, with all the players staying on-board, including Park City and Summit County, Mountain Accord appears to have achieved equilibrium. The vested interests that hold my attention more than the others at this stage are, as one could well imagine, Carl Fisher of Save Our Canyons and Nathan Rafferty of Ski Utah.
My opinion is that it’s a good thing they were both able to find reasons to remain in the overall conversation concerning how best to serve the Central Wasatch. Not that there won’t be a bit of "mano-a-mano" down the road when push comes to shove over One Wasatch, the proposal to connect all seven ski areas east of Salt Lake City.
With Mountain Accord pretty much putting the kibosh on ski lifts as a means of connecting the slopes of the resorts-in-question. Plus, with the transit solution of poking a hole through the mountain separating Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City also having been shot down, it will be most interesting to see how One Wasatch continues to unfold. It’ll be a power trip! You can bet your britches on that!
One thing’s for sure: the already overworked spin-doctors from the "right" will be smoking the candle at both ends in order to keep the forces that coalesced in the battle against the now fully-exposed "SkiLink" from once again acquiring virtual torches and pitchforks.
Speaking of which, what made SkiLink such a target-rich-environment for your humble scribe centered on how much it resembled Walmart’s Sherman-like march through Heber. It mattered little how passionate the opposition was to the big-box giant disrupting whatever quaintness remained in our quickly, evolving burg. They were patient.
They could and would and did outlast our protests. They had big pockets — big enough for the then Heber City Council to fit in. You know, the old ploy of increased tax base equaling pay raises, bigger bonuses, fleets of vehicles, and budgetary issues in the rearview mirror.
Not to mention the bigwig from Walmart’s parent company, Boyer Corporation, sitting atop the SkiLink Board of Directors. No red flags there! That list, if anything, brimmed over with competence. They were movers and shakers with links to the halls of Congress and it would be foolhardy to think they’ve taken their ball and bat and gone home.
Notions for One Wasatch and its kindred spirits aren’t going anywhere soon. And like the linemen for the county, this ain’t their first rodeo. I just hope they’re not as efficient as the Heber Light and Power crew. They had us back up and running before I ever got around to the crossword puzzle.
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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