I’ve launched the Bull Moose Newsletter to help keep people up to date on what has happened and what is coming up in Summit County
As many of you know, I am running a write-in campaign for Summit County Council. I want to show the type of information that the County Council should be providing. Therefore I have created the inaugural Bull Moose Newsletter. It’s not as good and detailed as I will eventually make it… but you have to start somewhere.
Each week I’ll be providing an overview of what has happened, what’s in progress, and what’s going to happen if we don’t all get involved.
So, if you are interested, here is a link to the first edition.
If you would like to get the newsletter via email, you can sign up here.
We don’t have too many dramas in Summit County and the Snyderville Basin. However, changes to Kilby Road, which runs in front of Pinebrook to the Whole Foods is shaping up to be a doozy. Therefore we’ve decided to call this issue Kilby-Gate.
For those who haven’t been following the story, Summit County wanted to put in a Park and Ride across from Ecker Hill Middle School. Residents were worried about traffic coming off I-80 and speeding down the frontage road (Kilby Rd). The County listened and worked to mitigate the issue. They ended up building an unusual road with lots of curves, which is designed to “calm” the traffic. It’s a known and standard principle, so it’s not out in left field. However, one could argue that it was taken to an extreme with Kilby.
Once the asphalt had dried, residents became enraged at the road design. Social media exploded with people questioning how the design was approved. I was at meetings where people berated the Public Works Director for building the road. Yet that was before paint was even put on the asphalt to designate lanes.
Typically issues like this rise and abate quickly. Attention spans are short. However, this one seems to have staying power. People are now flying drones over Kilby Road to show how cars are driving into the bicycles lanes. Worse, it allegedly shows that Park City Transit Buses are driving into the bike lanes. That’s not good. What it tells the public is that even professional drivers have problems with the course.
I for one love the new bike lanes on the road. However, if a Park City Transit bus takes me out on my e-bike I probably won’t be so enthused.
I tried to look back to see how much communication there has been about this road. It seems the County tried to do an innovative design and it hasn’t been well received. I found that there was a meet and greet in March about the road. That was a full 4 months before construction began! Why weren’t people up in arms then? Why didn’t they jump all over the design months before it began? It’s because the lead was buried.
I think too often our government leaders don’t want to anticipate criticism for fear of driving further criticism. They don’t want to say, “Hey we made a road that is really different to slow cars down… but you may not like it… so we wanted to check with the community first before we started.” It’s human nature after you have worked years on a project to just want to get it done. You don’t want to hear the negativity. You don’t want to think about starting over. It’s hard.
I think if Summit County had looked at this project, realized it was a major change, and worked from the position that most people are going to freak-out, they would have been better off. If Summit County had ensured that the Park Record headline was “Kilby Road is going to be VERY DIFFERENT. You Better check it out. Speak now or forever hold your peace,” it may have got people motivated to look at the design and provide feedback when it mattered.
But that is the past. That ship has sailed.
What we as residents should now be focused on are the roundabouts coming next year to Pinebrook and Jeremy. The County should be coming out right now and explaining everything they can possibly think of that you won’t like. The roundabouts have a UDOT component which makes them even tougher to have control over.
Let me pose a few questions:
- How are your kids going to walk through the roundabout or will there be tunnels for all anticipated paths?
- How many cars do they anticipate will be backed up, coming from Salt Lake City at peak times?
- How are your kids going to bike through the roundabout?
- How is your 7 year old kid who lives in Pinebrook going to traverse two roundabouts on her bike to get to Jeremy Ranch Elementary?
- How long should you expect to wait at the roundabout to be able to enter and head the direction you was to go? What is acceptable per the plan?
- When will construction begin and when will it end?
- Will construction happen during school hours?
- Are the roundabouts balanced (i.e. there is equal traffic from all directions), so that it maintains proper traffic flow?
- How many lanes will there be within the roundabout?
- How will this impact traffic going to Jeremy Ranch Elementary?
If you don’t know the answer to all these questions, or other questions you have, you should reach out to Summit County. You should force them to answer the tough questions because now is the time you can affect outcomes. Change is EXTREMELY HARD once the asphalt is down.
I had the chance to me Krachel (pronounced kruh-shell) Murdoch, the Summit County Public Affairs coordinator, a few weeks back. She wants to hear what you think. She wants to ensure your voice is heard. She can be reached at . Ask her the questions you have. She can then let our County Manager know the concerns and he can find ways to solicit further opinions.
Kilby-Gate isn’t going away. This winter, expect a flood of social media on the trial and tribulations of winter-navigation of Kilby Road. However, that’s in the past to a large degree. Let’s try to prevent the future conversations over the upcoming roundabouts that we’ll be living with forever.
Hi, I’m Josh Mann and I write most of the Park Rag. I’m running as a write-in candidate for Summit County Seat E. If you enjoy what you read here, consider writing my name in this November. I want to bring the same energy, logic, and critical view to the Summit County Council that you read here. More information on my platform can be found on my website.
I’m excited to formally announce that I am running an unaffiliated write-in bid for Summit County Council Seat E.
The tipping point for running was that there are seven positions up for election in Summit County and all races are unopposed. That’s not how it should be. Elections are a time when we should be debating ideas. We should be talking about how things are going and what we need to do better. I’m running as a write-in candidate which means that my name won’t be on the ballot. If you like my ideas, you’d need to write my name in. I know that’s hard.
It’s an uphill battle to actually win. In this case, though, the journey really is the destination. I want to win, but if I don’t, I want to know how to help a field of unaffiliated candidates run in the 2020 election with their names on the ballot. We need choice in Summit County. In my mind, this is the first step to better elections.
That said, I am not happy with how things are going in Summit County. We need change. So, I am running THIS YEAR for a number of specific reasons. I’d love for you to check out my website at www.joshmann.com for details. Here are the highlights of what I am hoping to accomplish if elected to Summit County Council Seat E.
We Need Better Communication
I don’t believe the County Council communicates well with the public. Instead, many people are blindsided with developments that happen across Summit County. They are left wondering how developments like Kilby Road happen. They wonder how buildings pop up out of nowhere. The truth is that those decisions were made years before and by the time the paint has tried, it’s way too late to change things.
I believe we can communicate using a blend of old and new methods. I want to meet you at coffee shops and diners across Summit County on Saturday and Sunday mornings to listen to you, to tell you what’s happening, to explain what I know. I want to hold online chats every week after our kids go to bed — so you can actually attend then. I want to ask you what’s important during those chats and enable you to easily ask questions. I want to provide a weekly newsletter of what decisions were made and what decisions are coming up with the County Council and Planning Commission. I want to make it easy for you to affect change.
I want you to be able to drop by my porch and chat or invite me over to speak with you and your neighbors over dinner. There’s a lot of issues in Summit County and working through them starts with better communication with your County Council. I believe I can make that better.
I’m for Low-growth and Low-development
I’m for low growth. I want a smart approach to development that ensures tomorrow’s Summit County will be as good as today’s. Open space is one of the great facets of the County; however, we’re letting it slip away. It is true that there is a lot of entitled lands where development rights are granted. Yet, the Summit County Council is making decisions that exacerbate the loss of open space. For example, there is land between Jeremy Ranch Elementary School and Burt Brothers where the County Council has discussed destroying the open space and building 600 to 1,000 apartments. It’s called the Cline Dahle Parcel. My chief concerns with erecting 600-1,000 apartments on the land are student safety due to the amount of traffic, the loss of open space, and questions about where the additional water will come from for that development.
In a case of a development like this, what also happens to our schools? The County Council can’t talk formally about this, but I can right now. My guess is it would add 400-800 students district-wide. Where do they go? If half of those are elementary school kids, that would mean adding 200-400 additional kids to Jeremy Ranch Elementary — which is already full. It couldn’t support that. We’d have to add on to Jeremy Ranch, shift school borders dramatically which would affect hundreds of kids and their friends, or build a completely new elementary school.
I’d rather the School District spend that money on tearing Treasure Mountain Junior High and build a needed school where kids can actually walk down the hall without bumping into other kids. What I don’t want is the County Council to make a rash move that takes away from open space, endangers kids, takes away water from residents, and then negatively impacts schools. Yet, that is where we are heading.
A similar reduction of open space could happen on the proposed Marketplace Commons on Highway 40. Marketplace Commons includes one hundred seventy-eight residential units, a hundred thousand square feet of commercial space, and five hundred parking spaces. It would likely include a hotel, grocery store, and drug store according to the developer. It is the definition of urban sprawl and it’s being considered in anticipation of growth that may come. What it would ensure is that we begin the building of a strip-mall down Highway 40.
I want to questions these things. I don’t want to allow something to be built in anticipation of what we think things will be like in 20 years. We see where that has gotten us to date. We need to slow down and make good decisions.
A New Transportation Culture is Needed
The old adage is that everyone is for buses because they hope everyone else will ride them. I believe Park City and Summit County push buses because they have some hope that everyone will ride them. I think that is extremely wishful thinking and wasteful.
In some areas, and at some times, buses work great (Park Meadows, 4th of July, Sundance, etc.). Yet, many of the times I pass buses, they are nearly empty. An empty electric bus is worse for the environment than no bus.
I don’t believe we are a people of buses. We live here because of the outdoors. We live here because of our trails. I’d like to see a different focus from Summit County with regard to transportation. I’d like to see us take advantage of our paved trails more and make our busses more usage based. I would like our roads and paved-trails designed in a way to make biking a primary form of transportation. To that end, I want the County Council to organize a group-buy of e-bikes so that more residents can experience how fun it is and how these bikes can transform our commutes. It really is magical.
I also want to find ways to pair our buses with usage. Many people love the idea of riding the bus to the resorts for skiing but are they going to load the car with ski equipment, drive to a park and ride 5 minutes away, unload their car, wait for the bus, load their gear on the bus, spend 10 minutes more on the bus than they would have in the car, and then arrive at the resort? Probably not.
We need to find ways to get buses into the neighborhoods on weekends during ski season. Could we rent school buses from the school district on the weekends and have those go into the neighborhoods? Could we repurpose the Kimball Junction Circulator? Is there some other way?
In my perfect world, we’d expand our paved trails. We’d find a way to put e-bicycles in the hands of as many people as possible. We’d design our roads and trails so they are safe for riders. Our busses would go into the neighborhoods to provide an easy way to maximize usage. We’d cut back on bus service where it doesn’t make sense.
Budget, Finance, and Choices
Over the last 10 years, our population has risen by 16%. Over that same period, our Summit County budget has risen over 95%. The question is whether that growth in spending is sustainable. At some point, taxes will need to be raised, on top of all the other taxes increased top continue this trend. That’s on top of the extra taxes you are paying because your property is valued more.
I believe we need to take a step back and talk about NEEDS versus WANTS. We need to make sure our money is being used wisely.
My salary could be better used elsewhere
I view the County Council position as a service to the community, but the current rules dictate that a County Council person makes about $40,000 per year. My wife and I are fortunate enough to have jobs that provide well enough so that we can take care of our family without the salary of the County Council position. So, if elected, I will donate my first two years salary to the Children’s Justice Center, Park City Educational Foundation, North Summit High School, and South Summit High School. In years 3 and 4, if nothing changes for my family, I’ll donate the salary again. I think those organizations could use that money.
To wrap it up, thanks for reading this far. We have a lot of challenges in front of us. I don’t proclaim to have all the answers but I do promise to do my best. I also promise to bring both a critical and innovative eye to our problems. As important, I promise to find ways to make it easy to hear you and respond.
Oh, and for the kind soul who asked what would happen to the Park Rag if by some chance I would win, you should expect it to carry on. Just like Dread Pirate Roberts in the Princess Bride, I believe another Dread Pirate Roberts would step up and want to steer the ship.
For more information, please see www.joshmann.com
Note: The physical Park Record newspaper article announcing my candidacy on 9/12 states that I am a “Republican Challenger.” That is incorrect. I am an unaffiliated candidate. I am in the middle — like most of you. I am working with the Park Record to correct this.
Fox 13 in Salt Lake is reporting that Park City Assistant City Attorney Polly Samuels McLean was arrested on September 6. She allegedly damaged more than $1,500 in hunting equipment and caused more than $500 in additional damages according to the report. She is facing felony theft charges, as well a misdemeanor criminal mischief charges.
The story says that after multiple cases of hunting equipment, vehicles, and other property being damaged, hunters started getting fed up. In this case, Ms McLean was allegedly recorded on a trail camera. This picture was then circulated across a Facebook group with 10,000 members. The person was identified as Ms. McLean, along with husband Andrew McLean.
Fox 13 reached out to Park City Municipal who said that Ms McLean reported the arrest to them on Friday, that the city will continue to follow policy, and they have no further comment.
KPCW is reporting that Park City’s new Transit System’s Manager, Barbara Murdock, was let go from her last position for allegedly using company funds inappropriately. Ms. Murdoch has, in turn, sued her former employer (Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority) stating gender discrimination and they didn’t communicate reasons for her termination.
What we don’t understand is how Park City hired someone with an uncertain (and possibly checkered) past for this position. In my own line of work, software development, we do a background check on every employee we want to hire. Our shop wouldn’t touch someone with a potential issue like this. We’re not sure why a prized jewel like Park City would take the risk.
Perhaps Park City Municipal asked to see her utility bills to confirm she didn’t use a company credit card to pay bills. Perhaps they asked to see her checking account statement to ensure she didn’t receive expense reimbursement for moving to Birmingham (since she had been there for a few years). Better yet, maybe she is so fabulous that the risk is worth it.
It just seems like Park City is taking a huge chance.
What we do know is that if Ms. Murdoch is charged with a crime in Alabama, she needs to be let go. Possibly if Ms Murdoch loses her civil case against the BJCTA, she should be let go. Either way, if one of those things happens, it should cast doubt on the decision making process of Park City Municipal.
Please don’t take this as a personal attack on Ms. Murdoch. I don’t know her. She may be a great person. The charges against her may be contrived, as she claims.
However, please do take this as a BIG QUESTION for Park City. There have to be countless professionals, skilled in transit, who would love to come to a place where transit is so important that buses are free. It’s odd that the city would pick someone that has questions surrounding her. It’s odd that Park City would choose someone that sued their previous employer.
Weird stuff happens here and we are not quite sure why. This is another example of it.
We’re reaching out to the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office to understand how we follow this case. We’ll report back as we find information.
Tonight, Summit County held a public meeting to answer questions about Kilby Road changes. This includes the strange curves that run from the Pinebook Fresh Market to Ecker Hill Middle School.
About 15 people showed up to ask questions of Derrick Radke, Summit County Public Works Director. A few people were quite militant. We felt for Mr Radke as a few of the people berated him, the county, every decision a public works person has ever made, whether he had any education (to which he responded that he had worked for over 35 years in the profession). No matter how Mr Radke answered a question, those people would not be satisfied. It was sad that community members can’t be more human.
That said, there were legitimate questions. Here are the ones we found interesting:
Q: Why isn’t the Kilby Road Park and Ride accessible from I-80?
A: The Federal Highway Administration required that if they wanted to connect the Park and Ride with I-80 that there was a formal exit. This is different from a simple offramp. So, that was not possible.
Q: Will there be a bike lane along Kilby RD?
A: Yes. There will be a five foot wide bike lane on both sides of the street (north and south).
Q: Why is the road designed with all these weird curves?
A: When a Park and Ride was proposed, the public was worried about speed of traffic approaching Ecker Hill. So, the road was designed with typical traffic calming measures. Therefore, there are curves to slow down traffic and turn lanes to help ensure a proper flow of traffic.
Q: When will all asphalt be laid between the Fresh Market and Ecker Hill?
A: By Sunday
Q: Will there be construction delays on the first day of school?
A: The construction company is trying to limit that.
Note: we took that answer as a YES, there will be delays. So, please travel accordingly.
Q: How will snow be removed with all the curves on the road?
A: The same procedures will be used, but it will be a little slower for Summit County plow crews.
Q: Is there a designated place for school kids to be picked up or dropped off in the Park and Ride area?
Note: a parent told us that the school is planning on sending something out on this.
Q: Who is going to use the Park and ride?
A: Vail paid over $5 million toward the Park and Ride. For this, they received a guaranteed 200+ spots. According to Mr Radke, the County can’t force people to use the Park and Ride but they are hopeful Vail and others will use the Park and Ride more over time.
Q: Will the Electric Express bus service the Park and ride.
A: No, probably not. It will likely be something like the Pink 7.
Note: This is an issue. The Sales Tax increase was predicated on the Electric 10 servicing this area at 10 minute intervals. If there is a change in that, it is concerning and that needs to formally be communicated to the community.
Some people have called it the Crazy 8’s. Others are wondering how snow will ever be plowed. Still other are concerned that winter driving will be a nightmare. What are we talking about? The new road construction along Kilby Rd (in front of Ecker Hill down to Fresh Market).
We’ve heard a lot of grumbling about the changes via social media, but Summit County is giving people a chance to air those concerns and ask questions during a meeting.
That meeting will be held Wednesday, August 22nd from 6PM to 7PM at the Richins Building (the Library on Ute Blvd by the Transit Center).
We’d encourage you to attend if you have interest. You may even get to ask whether the asphalt will be dry in 12 hours when you have to take your kid to school on Thursday.
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
We are hopeful that Deer Valley will be the same as ever — GREAT.
Yet, GREAT organizations are made of GREAT people.
Over the past few months we’ve heard of long time employees leaving Deer Valley. Most recently we heard that Bob Wheaton is mozying on. Bob has been the man behind Deer Valley for decades. It’s not that he personally provides ski school to your kid or grooms your run, but he has been in charge. We believe the current version of Deer Valley is his vision and his way of being.
Now it is being run by a venture capital firm. Here are the things they currently and have owned:
Does that give you faith?
We will give them the benefit of the doubt this year. Deer Valley should continue to be a five star experience. Maybe it can be even better than ever. Maybe?
However, KSL Partners should be aware that if it’s not, their investment value will be a lot less next year. They hold the golden egg in their hands.
The question is… Do they know how to keep that egg shining?
We’re gearing up for another school year. If the off season was any indicator, we’re headed for a doozey.
The Park Record headline screams, “Under new school policy, high opt-out rates could sink Park City School District’s statewide grades.”
The first paragraph goes even more dire: “The Park City School District in 2017 was given its first ‘F’ school grade from the state. Thanks to a new decision from the federal government, more failing grades might not be far behind.”
It appears due to new federal laws, children who opt out of year-end standardized test will be counted as 0’s when scores are averaged for the district. Because Park City has a high opt-out rate on tests like SAGE, this would mean our district’s average scores would drop for standardized tests.
Do you care?
Do you need our high school to be ranked #1… or even #25?
Question 1: In 2016 what was Park City high School’s ranking of best high schools in Utah per US News and World Reports?
Question 2: in 2017 what was Park City High School’s ranking?
Question 3: In late 2018 what was Park City High Schools ranking?
Answer 1: Not in the top 25
Answer 2: 1st in Utah
Answer 3: Not in the top 25
Wow, what a difference a year makes. One year the schools are crappy, the next year they are the best, and then they return to crap. Do you believe that?
No, we have good schools. Over 93% of kids graduate. 65% of kids take AP exams. 76% of exams are passed. As is typically the case in Park City, we are fine. Our kids have opportunities. They are surrounded by competent teachers. We have good leaders. It is likely your kids will get a better high school education that you did.
So, please don’t let a Park Record article shame you into forcing your kids to sit for a standardized test. You know more about your kids than anyone.
Maybe a year end test is good for your kid. GREAT. Maybe it’s not. GREAT. Only you and your kids know.
Final quick quiz…
Question: What’s the top school in Utah right now?
Answer: Why do you care?
Would you let your kid play on a pile of tires?
Would you let your child go to birthday parties on a pile of tires?
Would you let your kid compete in soccer on a pile of tires?
No. No. AND probably No.
Yet, Basin Rec is preparing to install another turf field made from recycled tires. KPCW is reporting that Basin Rec will be replacing the field house turf on Wednesday, July 25th. It will be replacing it with the same substance it has previously used, an “infill of rubber.”
We first talked about the danger of these fields in 2014. If you’ve been to one of Basin Rec’s fields, you’ll often see the “rubber dots” that fly up. You’ll often see rubber stuck to your toddler’s socks. You’ll often find rubber pieces in your kid’s hair. You’ll often notice your kid’s hands and feet are stained in black.
That rubber is ground up tires. There are 27 chemicals of concern in crumb rubber (as they call it) and 11 of which are carcinogenic. Those tires contain mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead.
The question that many have is whether these tire “bits” are cancerous. The issue came to light when Amy Griffin, an assistant head coach of women’s soccer at the University of Washington, began to notice that some of her current and former players, especially goalkeepers, had been diagnosed with cancer. According to CNN, “when the list began drawing attention, the Washington State Department of Health and researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health reached out to conduct an investigation into whether the cancer rate seen in Griffin’s list was unusual. The study, published last week, concluded it was not, and recommended that ‘people who enjoy soccer continue to play irrespective of the type of field surface.'”
However, according to CNN “the study wasn’t designed to identify whether exposure to tire crumbs caused cancer among some of the players. Rather, the investigation was to determine whether the cancer diagnoses were higher than would be expected and then qualify as a cluster.”
So, on one side we have the Washington State Department of Health who says that the cancer rates were not higher than expected. On the other side, we have a soccer coach who noticed that a lot of goalies who played on artificial turf were getting blood cancers. Neither opinion is conclusive on whether paying on a field of ground up tires is safe.
Yet, we come back to the question of whether you’d want your kid playing on used tires? The alternative is using a product like “Nike Field Turf” which is made from ground up shoes. According to NBC, it costs about 2% more than turf-rubber made from tires and contains consumer-friendly ingredients.
Of course, The Synthetic Turf Council, a lobbying group for the turf industry says tire rubber is a non-issue.
The truth is that there are no official studies linking turf made from tires to negative effects. Yet, there are the soccer players … and if you haven’t’ watched the ESPN segment on them, you should.
In many ways it seems a lot like CTE (concussions) with football players. After a hundred years, we are finally acknowledging that blows to the brain have extremely negative consequences. Are fields made from ground up tires a good idea? Should our kids be exposed to this? Should our 3 year olds be running around barefoot at birthday parties on this?
Yes, it’s true we live in the mountains and real grass is hard to come by in March. However, for a few percent more in cost, it seems there are better materials that we should be investing in for our fields.
We think the Basin Rec made mistake on this. We’re building a field for the next 10 years… why not build something that seems more safe, for only a little more cost. Wy not protect our kids from ingesting potentially carcinogenic substances?
In a town that thrives on athletics, we hope this choice doesn’t turn out horribly for someone.
Frankly, we can’t believe Summit County took the chance.
If you have 10 minutes, and a child, we’d recommend watching the ESPN story on this.