Letters to the editor, April 12-14, 2017
Submissions from Park Record readers
April 11, 2017
Less park, more city
The city government held its sixth informal meeting with the public Tuesday afternoon. While it is a nice idea to gather in this way; it was alarming to hear what the mayor and council representative had to say. Our current leadership clearly sees the future of our town as a city, not a town, or resort. Part of what is driving this growth is the demand for affordable housing. We were told that 800 additional units of affordable housing are required over the next decade. When pinned down on that number Council person Gerber explained that those additional units would keep affordable housing at its current ratio of 15 percent of housing stock. Do the math!
Does that mean 5,333 new housing units are expected to be built? While affordable housing is a good thing it is an insatiable thirst. Developers won't provide it without the incentive of more density. More density means more people, more people means more demand for goods and services, which requires more workers, who, in turn, require more affordable housing. It will never end and this vicious cycle will turn our town into a city! There is no room for 5,333 free standing housing units. These new units will have to be apartment/condos. Our mayor even used the example of his European relatives who live above the retail stores on their main street. But how tall will we have to build these apartment/ condo buildings to net over 5,000 more residential units. When asked this question Councilperson Gerber said "we won't build high, we will build smart!" Huh?
Our leadership's vision for Park City is an urban model with tall buildings, with people living over retail spaces and restaurants. There will be paid parking everywhere to penalize drivers (even if they have no public transportation options). Park City might become the first ski town, business center in our country. While this model might delight some; what about the longtime resident, tourist, second home owner who want to escape the urban landscape and its inherent problems and be in the mountains? How soon will it be before in-town Park City looks like Kimball Junction, or worse?
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Park City Council made the right decision to remand developers' request
What an energetic, interactive City Council Meeting that played out on Thursday, March 30, around the conditional use permit of the Old Kimball Building. Residents and professionals came to justify their positions, either for or against, in a standing-room-only crowd.
I was so impressed with our Mayor and city council members on how they addressed this sensitive discussion brought up by both sides of the argument. Once public input was completed and discussion started among council members, their questions were very focused around the key vision and values that the council refers to often. It is refreshing to see the consistency of Park City’s vision and values, match up perfectly with the questions and concerns brought forward by our council members.
They were focused on how this conditional use permit would enhance a sense of community in Old Town, increase our ability to provide public services, contribute to keeping “Park City, Park City” and whether or not this demonstrates environmental stewardship (traffic, parking, sound pollution).
The current proposal did not adequately provide solutions for these concerns. Ultimately, it was decided to be sent back to the planning department to find ways to mitigate the key issues which are currently in conflict with Park City’s Vision and Values, and for this, a big round of applause and thank you to our City Council team.
It is decisions like this where I feel that our Park City government is making the right decisions to help keep what we still have as a community and make our community a priority.
Old Town, Park City
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Park City School District needs a new plan
I have some questions for the Park City School District.
Seventeen months ago the Park City community defeated a $56 million school bond by a significant margin. The 2015 bond, plus $10million from savings would have paid for an expansion of the high school ($27.5 million), construction of a new 5/6 school ($24.8 million), improvements to McPolin Elementary School ($1.4 million), demolition of TMJHS ($606,336), and athletic facilities improvements including a field house ($12 million).
Current estimates are $68 million for the HS expansion, at least $25 million for a new 5/6 school, at least $1.4 million for McPolin improvements, and at least $606,336 for the TMJHS demolition. The athletic facilities, including a field house, are now included in a recent plan proposed by the Recreation Facilities Committee (a consortium of the PCSD, Basin Recreation, and PC Municipal). The estimated cost is $35 million. What was going to cost $66 million in 2015 is now going to cost at least $130 million. Why has the price tag for the same facilities doubled in less than two years?
The expanded high school will have a capacity of 2,000 students. Once that number is reached, projected to be ten years from now, a second HS will be needed. Why are you spending $68 million to expand the existing high school when you will be asking for at least $100 million to build another one in 10 years?
Several years ago you decided to expand kindergarten from half day to full day and add a pre-school program which resulted in the present overcrowding in the elementary schools. Why did you start these programs before there were adequate facilities in place to house the K-5 students?
You have threatened to levy a capital tax to cover the cost of all these improvements if we do not approve a potential $100 million bond. Since this offensive approach failed two years ago why are you using it again?
The present situation is the result of poor planning and poor leadership. I want to vote YES on an appropriate school bond, but I cannot until there is a new long-range plan and new school district leadership in place.
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Latest Supreme Court confirmation is a sign of our decline
Like canoeing down the Niagara River, we have heard the roar of the falls getting louder for years. Now the Senate has plunged over the brink. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch is just the tragic climax to this partisan ride.
For over 200 years the Senate was able to confirm Supreme Court nominees with a 60 vote consensus. What just happened is called the “nuclear option” for a reason.
With polls showing voters strongly against this course by a 65 to 25 margin, there may never have been a time when Congress has been less responsive to the voice and will of the people. Clearly Party and power are more important than Country to them now.
I’m at a loss as to what it will take to truly alter this course, but it must start with calling Senator Hatch, and some of our Congressmen home.
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Our gentle neighbors are back, please protect them
“Craig” Crane, and his lovely wife “Chris”, have returned to Park City from their winter retreat. In spite of the many dangers, they will spend the third year of their marriage on the front nine of the Muni Golf Course, because, like all sandhill cranes, they are programmed to return to their same nesting site every year.
These ancient, highly social and vocal birds may wait until they are seven years old before they select a lifetime mate. Both parents tend to the nest to raise just one baby a year. Their "chick" is capable of flight within several hours of hatching, but will stay with its parents until the next breeding season. In friendly environs, cranes can live for three or more decades. A crane that loses its mate will flock with other widowed and unattached cranes.
Sandhill cranes are not particularly afraid of people which adds risk to their limited chances of survival. Please help protect these birds from getting in the way of your golf balls, dogs, and curious children.
Beverly Hurwitz, MD
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Summit County should not raise property taxes
As a full time resident of Summit County, I am baffled to read how the Summit County Council is urging increasing property taxes. Have they given any thought to the fact, had they not wasted taxpayers money in the first place, there would be no reason to even consider raising property taxes? The problem with county politicians and politicians in general is, they wear blinders and forget their misgivings are what create a shortfall. Why should taxpayers be responsible for bailing out a county, when the council members put us in the misfortunate situation to begin with?