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Ignoring Regional Differences Is the Fundamental Problem With the Mountain Accord

We’ve been looking at the Mountain Accord, the plan for uniting the Wasatch via trains, planes buses, and automobiles. Something didn’t sit quite right but we couldn’t put our finger on it. Then this morning Peter Metcalf, CEO of Black Diamond Equipment, was on KPCW. Leslie Thatcher asked Mr Metcalf, who had served on the Executive Committee of the Mountain Accord (and is a Summit County resident) where he stood on the Accord. He said:

This is a regional planning process. I think that’s the beauty of it and that is one of the great differentiators of Utah … like the Wasatch front with many of the [different] communities … the fact that we can bring together cites in the front range and cities on the back side, Summit County, Wasatch County, Salt Lake City, the Forest Service, Department of Transportation, etc. Everyone is involved with this. We have been trying to create a regional vision for this huge Wasatch..what to preserve , what to allow for development, how to move people, how to best connect it to preserve those values and attributes that we hold so near and dear but at the same recognize that our community is growing.Peter Metcalf, CEO Black Diamond Equipment

That sounds great in theory. However, in practice, the back side of the Wasatch is very different from the front side. It’s even unfair to say that the front side is necessarily similar. When you drive through the Avenues how similar does it seem to Sandy? How different is Cottonwood Heights from Sugarhouse? It’s only 6 miles via I-215 but it’s truly a world away.

When we look at the Mountain Accord, it tries to look at the entire Wasatch as homogenous. “Let’s connect it all. Won’t that be AWESOME!” Yet, there are differences that fundamentally should influence how one approaches the region. Sandy had its growth in the 80’s and 90’s. Compared to that, Wasatch County is a babe-in-arms. It’s looking at a future that’s just begun. Park City is a world-renowned resort community that lives and dies off of tourism (Sundance and mountain sports). Sandy is generally a suburb where its “wholesome lifestyle” and good schools make it ideal to raise kids. Summit County is a mix of second home owners, commuters, people desiring a rural lifestyle, and outdoor enthusiasts. Does that mix sound like Salt Lake City to you?

If Park City is truly like Salt Lake City then Donna McAleer would be in the US House of Representatives instead of Rob Bishop. Yet, we know how that turned out.

The truth is that different areas of the Wasatch are … different. They are at different points in their “lives.” They have different backgrounds… different needs…different pros…. and different cons. By trying to define a regional solution they are willing to sacrifice what makes Park City great for the benefit of the Wasatch Front. They are willing to enable a horde of day-skiers to flood our mountains without contributing to what has made Park City successful.

If they truly wanted to maximize Park City, they would look deep into our soul and optimize what has made Park City great. They would figure out how to reduce traffic while making it easy for tourists to experience our town. Instead they seemed focused on enabling Sandy to be a hub for locals wanting to ski and perhaps build a few more Motel 6’s along the train tracks.

That may be great for them but it’s not for us. We need to start calling what it what it really is… the Sandy Accord or perhaps the Cottonwood Accord (that has a nice ring to it). It may be just what Sandy wants but it’s getting really hard to see a benefit for Park City and Summit County.





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