Tom Clyde: Starting the decade off unmoored
Here we are at the dawn of the new year, and of the new decade.
It’s close enough for my purposes, though the killjoys from 2000 are still out there squawking about there wasn’t a year “zero” so this is the beginning of the final year of the decade, not the beginning of the next decade. Nobody cares. It’s math.
We’re living in a fact-free world now, liberated from the frustrations of objective truth. If you want it to be the beginning of the next century, that’s entirely up to you.
I’m still struggling with the altered reality that garbage day has switched from Thursday to Friday at my house, at least on one side of the bridge. On the other side of the bridge, it’s Wasatch County, and garbage day is unchanged. There’s some benefit in knowing that I now have two chances of getting the trash picked up. If I miss one, I can push the can across the bridge and get it dumped the next day. But I still feel unmoored because of it. Then throw the holiday schedule into the mix, a substantial snowstorm, and the only thing I know for certain is that a lot of trash is going to get spilled because no matter what day of the week it is, UDOT’s snowplow doesn’t slow down.
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It’s hard to know what to predict in the new year. I’m going to go way out on a limb and predict that the new tunnel under 248 by Park City High School will be open in time for the start of the school year. I’m sure there will still be a few details to sort out, and the temporary traffic light that stops traffic even if there isn’t anybody in the cross walk will probably become a permanent fixture. But with diligent effort, the contractor will wrap things up.
By the time they get it done, it’s safe to assume that UDOT will have found some footnote in the appendix to a supplement to the Federal Highway Regulations that will prohibit them from re-striping the highway to make 2 lanes inbound. Instead of a new 5-year environmental assessment on the land markings, they will revert to the widening project that everybody hated for every possible reason. So the project to extend the tunnel under the new, widened, road will begin.
It’s a safe bet that there will be no measurable improvement in traffic flow in 2020. The city will study it some more.
In Kamas, where the South Summit school bond proposal failed for the second time, the School Board is trying to figure out what to do next. The schools are jammed and there are some huge growth pressures looming. They need the space. The Board sent out a mass mailing basically asking constituents, “Now what,” because they are pretty much out of ideas. I don’t know the solution, but they probably ought to try a different plan, maybe adding on to the existing South Summit High School even if they have to move the bus garage. A whole lot of the opposition was the location of the proposed new school. But I predict the option of merging the three school districts in Summit County into one won’t be considered by anybody but a few cranks like me. I think it’s a good idea, and not only because it would be great fun to watch a unified school board dealing with funding for lacrosse and rodeo in the same meeting. It’s a safe bet the bond issue is back on the ballot in November.
Because Sundance isn’t disruptive enough, the city and Festival sponsors will work to ensure that the gridlock lasts the full 11 days. The past several years, it’s more or less over after that first weekend when the Kardashians go home. Things are still busy, but not the insanity of that first weekend. So to extend the event, there is a big bonfire planned for the parking lot north of the Marsac building for the final weekend. It’s a good way to get rid of all the left over brochures and sponsor swag (and a few bad films). Sundance being Sundance, I’m sure it will be a well-produced event, and not some frat party burning a pile of shipping pallets and melting the asphalt.
Attendees should be able to buy carbon offsets, and only the best soot-free hardwood flown in from Madagascar will be used for the fuel. And the Kardashians still will have gone home, but it will generate one last colossal traffic snarl to remember it by.
It’s an election year, and while my Aussie shepherd could beat Trump in Summit County, there is a sinking feeling that the Democrats will do something entirely in character and nominate George McGovern, guaranteeing four more fact-free years. My dog would do a really good job, likes everybody, and doesn’t tweet.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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“There is some sweetness in this isolation. Gifts of time and room for conversations too often hurried in our BC world (before Corona).”