Letters, Dec. 4-7: Excessive artificial light is a real problem in Park City
Shining a light on the problem
Early humans took refuge from night predators by the light of fire. Oil lamps once helped humans and horses to navigate cobblestone roads. Before automobile headlights, gas lamps facilitated big city nightlife.
But now, we know that exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN) compromises human health and entire ecosystems, and has no real benefit. Dimming lights for 14 years in 62 British/Welsh communities did not increase crime. Crime rates were highest where light was brightest. Home security systems, especially those that bark, are better crime deterrents.
ALAN also doesn’t improve accident rates. Emerging vision science indicates that excessive ALAN results in glare, light clutter and skyglow, causing loss of contrast, which is like driving with a dirty windshield. Contrast vision worsens with age. Reflectors to mark road curves may be safer than glaring streetlights.
A recent survey of streetlights in several Park City neighborhoods showed very unequal distribution. One residential street was excessively lit with more than 24 lights/mile, while other residential streets had no lights. Paved trails, crosswalks and bus stops were mostly unlit. It also appears that residents of smaller homes are subjected to more light pollution than people who live more luxuriously.
So, who does excessive lighting benefit besides the utility company?
Many cities are working to reduce light pollution to conserve energy, reduce carbon, reduce costs and improve the health of people, plants and wildlife. Switching to LED lights saves money but still wastes energy, and the shorter wavelengths of LEDs may be unhealthy. Turning lights off between midnight and dawn is another option. Solar lights, smart lights and new technologies like luminescent surface paint are the future.
Residential Park City currently has antiquated, poorly distributed, polluting and costly nighttime illumination in need of significant updating. Extinguishing grossly unnecessary streetlights would be a good start.
Program spells death for cats
Trap-neuter-re-abandon (TNR) programs for cats may be well intentioned, but they spell suffering and death for vulnerable animals.
Abandoning cats outdoors is inhumane, whether or not they have been sterilized. Cats are domesticated animals who cannot survive the dangers they encounter outdoors, including parasites, deadly contagious diseases, speeding cars, predators on two legs and four, and more. These perils violently cut cats’ lives short after an average of just two or three years — compared to a lifespan of 12 to 15 years for cats who live indoors.
With freezing temperatures already here, cats left outdoors will suffer frostbite, hypothermia and even freeze to death. In previous winters, a kitten in West Jordan froze to a blanket on a windowsill, and a kitten in Iowa was found frozen to the ground, with severe frostbite on his feet. A senior cat in Michigan froze to a tire; his body temperature was so low that it didn’t even register on a thermometer. He was dehydrated, his nostrils were pus-filled, his right eye was sealed shut and his left eye was reportedly “pushed back so far that it doesn’t work.” There have been countless other cases like this. Most are never reported.
Leaving cats outdoors is also cruel to billions of birds and other vulnerable wildlife whom free-roaming cats maim and kill every year. Cats are not native species and are not part of the predator-prey ecosystem. They kill whether or not they have been fed.
The humane solution is to prevent more cats from becoming homeless in the first place, by working to establish strong laws that require responsible cat guardianship — including spaying and neutering, microchipping and keeping cats safely contained. People who care should work to rescue cats from the streets — not leave them to face certain suffering and death outdoors.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) animal care and control issues manager
Make your voices heard
Attention Deer Valley residents who have used or plan to use the Park City bus on Royal Street this winter.
Are you aware that the transit department of the city government is planning on discontinuing the bus service on Royal Street? They will be presenting their report to the City Council on Thursday, Dec. 9, and I urge you to attend in person if possible or by Zoom online.
Parking at Silver Lake is nonexistent, the Deer Valley Resort parking lot at Snow Park fills up and city street parking is restricted. The parking situation in Old Town in only getting worse, making it difficult, if not impossible, to go to downtown to shop or dine.
One suggestion mentioned in place of the regular bus service is an “on demand” service, which would require a telephone reservation one hour prior to the requested service, which would then be provided at the bus stop. However, there would be a 30-minute pick-up window within which a vehicle could be provided. Standing on an unprotected, uncovered bus stop for 30 minutes in cold or snowy or hot summer weather certainly doesn’t make for new riders!
Some folks rent their homes and condos during the ski season and the availability of the bus service is important to them. In fact, having a free city bus is an amenity they have advertised to their renters who often don’t want to use a rental car. Many other folks purchased homes in Deer Valley knowing that the city provides bus service to Royal Street.
Employees who work at Silver Lake use the bus, and perhaps an express service early in the morning, and again in the late afternoon going up Marsac, would help. But it should not be at the detriment to those who reside on the mountain. I hope that a compromise can be worked out for all involved — perhaps using a minibus for the Royal Street route.
As tax-paying, voting constituents of the City Council, your voices need to be heard. Please contact City Council members prior to the meeting on Dec. 9 and attend in person or virtually if you can.
Manage mental health during holidays
The holiday season can be a very stressful time for those struggling with a mental illness. Summit County Clubhouse (SCC) is here to help.
According to the National Association of Mental Health (NAMI), “24% of people living with a mental illness found that the holidays made their symptoms ‘a lot worse,’ 40 % of people living with a mental illness found that the holidays made their symptoms ‘somewhat worse,’ 66 % felt lonely and nearly half could not be with their loved ones.”.
Some ways to manage your mental health during the holiday season include setting realistic goals, maintaining healthy habits, planning ahead and acknowledging your feelings. Most importantly, reach out for help. Summit County Clubhouse recognizes the need for individuals living with mental illness to stay connected during the holidays, a time that can be difficult for many. Because of this the Clubhouse is open on all major holidays on the day observed, where members can be with their Clubhouse family and celebrate in a safe and positive environment. If you’re lonely, stressed, anxious or depressed, you do not need to suffer alone. Contact SCC (summitcountyclubhouse.org), where there are opportunities for community, friendship, employment, education and individualized support and services.
Summit County Clubhouse board member
Serve up some common sense
This isn’t about a social justice issue, but something local: tennis and pickleball at the PC MARC. The MARC is a taxpayer-funded facility; however, courts are not equally available to both tennis and pickleball players. Pickleball is only allowed to be played on the “bubble” courts. The MARC does not allow it on the indoor courts. The MARC has tennis-only times and pickleball-only times (and pickleball times are 6-8 a.m. and after 7 p.m. — inconvenient) — even if courts are empty. A Park City resident cannot pay to play pickleball on an empty court if it is designated a “tennis” time. This is ridiculous!
This community facility should be available equally to tennis and pickleball players — particularly given the tremendous upsurge in pickleball interest. If one court is being used for tennis and the court next to it is being used for pickleball that should be celebrated — our taxpayer-funded facility is being used to its maximum extent.
On Nov. 8, 24 pickleball player set out to play at Basin Rec; however, Basin Rec double booked the facility. I went to the MARC and all three bubble courts were empty with no reservations. The manger would not let us play since it was a “tennis” night. Instead of 24 taxpayers getting exercise and the city getting paid for six courts — 24 people went home and the city made $0.
On Nov. 11, 12 taxpayers playing pickleball had to leave the courts at 8 a.m. and only two tennis players came on one court to play. Two tennis courts (four pickleball courts) were empty but the pickleball players had to leave. This happened again on Dec. 1 but zero tennis players came on the courts. Every time I play from 6-8 a.m. this happens. This doesn’t make sense and needs to change.
We need some common sense brought into the management of this shared resource. End segregation at the MARC.
Idea is on thin ice
The idea of skating at the City Park tennis courts sounds great. But I don’t think it will work out well. This is not Minnesota — we have “mild” winter temps for all but four to six weeks. We also have high-elevation sunshine, so even below 32 degrees it’s soft. The city needs shading to make this work even for a short time. How about snow removal? I hope you prove me wrong — I would love to eat crow with my skates on!
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