Letters to the Editor, Oct. 7-9, 2015
October 6, 2015
School district’s capital levy threat is an ‘outrage’
The $56 million school bond that the Park City School District plans to submit to local voters is in trouble, and much of the dissatisfaction with this bond stems from the uncertainty about how $12 million of the bond will be spent on athletic facilities improvements.
This portion of the bond represents 21.4 percent of the amount to be approved. So it is not insignificant. The local voters have a right to know how that money is to be spent so they can make an informed decision. The lack of transparency on the plans for this portion of the bond suggests that the school district may be hiding something from us, like perhaps a field house for the lacrosse teams. If the school district has not yet determined how to spend that money, that portion of the bond should be removed until a plan is established that can gain the support of the community.
Too often in politics the public is presented with packaged deals that include questionable and unpopular items with uncontroversial necessities. Because the uncontroversial necessities are important, the public permits the questionable and unpopular items to be adopted. Given a chance to separately vote on the items, the public will not permit wasteful or unnecessary expenditures to be approved.
The threat to use a capitol levy tax to fund the school district projects if the bond is voted down is an outrage. Such short sighted action would undermine the comity that is necessary for this town to prosper because it would be seen as a betrayal of democratic principles. We have some basic expectations from government in this community, and one of those expectations is that the community should approve the expenditures that government makes and the taxes that we pay to support those expenditures. Any end run by the school district will be divisive and will be punished for years. It will undermine community support for education here until there is a thorough house cleaning of the school district’s leadership so that the community believes that it is represented by prudent and transparent leaders.
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The school district’s leadership should disavow this crazy talk about a capitol levy tax and should immediately provide a thorough and detailed explanation of the planned athletic facility improvements. There is still a chance that the bond will be approved, but time is running out and resentment is increasing caused by the scare talk about a capitol levy tax. If the bond goes down, there will be another chance to address the issues later, and perhaps the school district’s leadership will do a better job of listening to the community next time.
F. Joseph Feely III
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Treasure Mountain still vital part of school system
It was said at the public hearing last week that the school district "doesn’t have the capacity to build two middle schools right now." This implies that they want to, but have determined they can’t for some reason. I am heartened to hear this.
I am a supporter of nearly any solution to growth that isn’t a single 1,900-person middle school. It seems outdated to push everyone together as communities elsewhere trend toward neighborhood schools to improve parental involvement and quality of life for kids and adults. I’ve advocated publicly for a two middle school solution, one at Treasure and one at Ecker, each housing grades 5-8, one with French and another with Spanish.
The School Board’s proposed plan includes money to operate a "community" field house year-round, so there is money to run something extra. Let’s have it be a school; let the Recreation Departments build and run sports facilities. (If one is at Quinn’s it might even have a pool, which could certainly benefit the high school swim team.)
For every school sport participant, there is one who isn’t, and those kids need opportunities too. Giving up Treasure as a school location is a loss for the community, education, and students.
Just last week, I saw a group of Hispanic students from Treasure Mountain at the door of a first grade class at McPolin. Why were they there? To read in Spanish to the first graders. They were beaming with excitement. They brought the books. They waited patiently. And no special transportation was required. This is the type of educational opportunity kids can have if K-12 were on the Kearns campus.
To me, a "no" vote says the Board’s plan is not the best plan for our kids’ education in this district. A "no" vote tells the School Board to consider qualitative factors more strongly. A "no" vote urges the district to use the $19M capital fund before asking for more money (by the way, tax revenue adds $5M annually to the capital fund).
Your vote is your voice. Is the Board’s master plan the one that we want for the long-term? Yes, they have threatened to levy a tax, but if people vote down the plan, they might actually think twice about it first.
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Support for Sam was overwhelming
In the 18 years I have lived in Park City, I have had the privilege of being involved with a number of our community’s large fundraising events and galas, yet none of those experiences prepared me for what occurred last week at the #LightforSam Benefit & Auction. Approximately 600 people (felt like 1,000!) came together at O’Shucks/The Grill in Pinebrook to celebrate the extraordinary young man who is Sam Jackenthal. The crowds filled the patios and streamed down the sidewalks as people waited to get in.
Endless stories and "Sam-isms" were shared, a multi-media presentation showcased his talent, his peers sold "Smiles for Sam" wristbands, and his sister’s soccer teammates sported Sam shirts. Families, friends and even strangers moved by the story of a fun-loving, compassionate, and nationally recognized skier critically injured 8,000 miles from home turned out in force to further Park City’s ongoing support for Sam and his family. Local business owners showed up with last minute auction items in-hand and people bid, and bid some more. Auction items went for well above value and some guests even bid against themselves just to up the proceeds. In all, well over $50,000 was raised to assist with Sam’s mounting medical costs.
The level of generosity flowed last night as freely as the positive energy and love that filled the building.
It was only two weeks ago that O’Shucks owner, Bruce Corrigan, reached out with the idea of hosting a benefit. Within a matter of hours, Sandy Geldhof stepped up to spearhead the effort and, with the support of Hatch Haslock and Team Park City United, hit the ground running. Auction items poured in along with monetary donations, dozens of volunteers stepped up to help, and our local media, including The Park Record, generously helped spread the word. What was accomplished by Sandy’s team, including Laura Arnold, Anne Smith, Bari Nan Cohen, and so many others, was heartwarming and awe-inspiring.
While the #LightforSam Benefit raised significant funds to help ease the financial burden of Sam’s costly medical care, it also accomplished so much more for his teammates, neighbors and friends here at home ~ for at least one evening, it helped heal our hearts and lift our spirits. What took place last week at O’Shucks was inspiring and reaffirms that Park City is truly a special place to call home. I couldn’t be more proud of our community.
Editor’s note: According to Gillwald, Sam Jackenthal passed away over the weekend but the funds and the spirits that were raised in the community to support the Jackenthal family are still greatly appreciated in this heartbreaking time.
County is too loose with purse strings
I am appalled by the profligacy of our county officials.
1. The county rec department wants to spend $3 million on a tunnel under Rte. 224 for a handful of children to cross to McPolin school. Surely a pedestrian controlled flashing light – similar to the one in Park City outside The Fresh Market store – would suffice at a fraction of the price. For even more security, a crossing guard could be hired for less than $10,000 p.a. as happens in cities all over the world. Hopefully, the delay announced by the county commissioners will allow them to evaluate this alternative.
2. The school board wants to spend $12 million on a new indoor athletic facility apparently mainly for the lacrosse teams to practice in winter. We already have 3 outdoor "all weather" fields which are suitable for play on all but a handful of snow days per year. Moreover, the players wear gloves and helmets and would not be hampered much by wearing warm outdoor clothing. Ditto the soccer players. I will be voting against the proposal.
3. The city still has to start utilizing the large and expensive park and ride lot they built at considerable cost several years ago out at Quinn’s junction to alleviate commuter traffic on Rte. 248.
Meanwhile, when I proposed to Summit County Rec. that they copy European professional soccer clubs and build a simple wooden wall at one or more fields for soccer players to practice shooting, I was told that their budget was totally committed for the next year! This simple idea would cost less than $1,000 and might revitalize a program that won more High School state titles from 1994 thru 2009 than any H.S. in Utah but hasn’t won any since.
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Beerman deserves another council term
I support Andy Beerman for City Council because even under the most trying
times he works well with others to form creative solutions. He’s forward
thinking; he works his guts out for Park City and the environment; he’s
articulate and his positive attitude and energy is infectious.
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