Record editorial: Summit County’s voice should be prominent in Olympic discussions
It was an exciting moment at Capitol Hill on Wednesday when officials unveiled the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, the latest step in the state’s pursuit to reignite the fire within and put on a sequel to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
But if Utah wins a future Games, what will the Summit County government’s role be as the Olympic region climbs atop the podium?
That’s a question residents and local leaders have been asking ever since the effort to attract another Olympics to Utah gained momentum in 2017. It became relevant once again Wednesday when no one from the County Courthouse was named to the committee, leaving Park City Mayor Andy Beerman as the area’s lone governmental representative.
The omission was particularly notable because Summit County officials have previously been adamant about their desire to be heavily involved in the planning for a future Games, a role they say they didn’t have in the lead up to the 2002 Olympics. It comes after they were also absent from the exploratory group that evaluated whether Utah should vie for another Games.
If Utah does win another Games, ensuring the event is a net-positive for the county will be a tremendous task. For instance, it would be a prime opportunity for the county to tap into federal funding for projects like transportation infrastructure that would benefit the community long after the athletes and spectators head home.
But without representation on the newly formed committee, it’s unclear at this point how Summit County officials intend to make their influence felt. Residents — many of whom are wary of what another Olympics would mean for their day-to-day lives even as they are enthusiastic about the overall idea of once again welcoming the world — are counting on the County Courthouse to help shape the process as it unfolds.
In contrast, Beerman’s presence on the organization’s executive committee gives Park City a prominent seat at the table at the outset of the formal bid process. That is no small thing, and his involvement will improve the outcome for the entire Park City area.
But his foremost obligation is to represent Park City proper rather than the broader region. For that reason, we call on the leadership of Utah’s Olympic push to recognize Summit County’s importance by ensuring its interests are reflected throughout the planning efforts.
For her part, Cindy Crane, the chair of the committee’s board of directors, insists there will be plenty of opportunity for Summit County’s involvement, perhaps as part of a separate committee centered around the host cities and communities. Summit County Manager Tom Fisher seemed similarly optimistic despite the county’s absence from the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games.
For the sake of residents who would live with the impacts of hosting another Olympics, let’s hope they’re right.
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