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Mountain Accord As a Political Issue

Remember the Mountain Accord? It was that crazy plan that was going to build a tunnel from Brighton to PCMR in order to enable light rail up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Park City. Over 400 people showed up at Park City High to provide their opinion on Mountain Accord and the tunnel. Most of it was anti-Accord. Yet, that was months ago, and with the tunnel being put on “hold”, many people have cleared the Accord from their minds.

Yet the Mountain Accord is about many other things. Back country skiing. The watershed. Transportation. Corruption. Land management.

It seems the people in Salt Lake City may not have forgotten about Mountain Accord. A friend of the Park Rag emailed a letter received from a Jackie Biskupski, a candidate that is running for Salt Lake City Mayor. It included the following, “While I appreciate the effort that has gone into the Mountain Accord and the time spent trying to solve the problem of slow degradation of our canyons, this document needs someone who will look at it with a critical eye.” If you delve into her campaign you will find a scathing assessment of the Mountain Accord. She cites:

  • Canyon expansion benefits a small number of Utah residents at a very high cost to residents of Salt Lake City.
  • We all know the saying, “if you build it, they will come.” We should be building to meet the needs, not creating pressure for future growth by high cost expansion.
  • We face great uncertainty about the impact of climate change on our canyons. We need to invest our resources in strategies that allow us to respond in a flexible manner when conditions change.
  • One of the most pressing issues confronting Utah over the next few decades is water supply. Mountain Accord promises new culinary water to Alta for expansion and increased water for snowmaking purposes, a demand that is likely to increase with the expected impacts of climate change. Any promise of water rights should be nonbinding to allow for reevaluation, and contingent upon future water needs.

While those people in Salt Lake City have a large number of considerations to take into account when voting for their next Mayor, it makes me think about our local Park City elections.  In a recent article, the Park Record said, “There does not seem to be an overriding issue this election season like some years in the past.” Yet, is there anything bigger to us than the Mountain Accord and the-still-possible tunnel through to PCMR? Probably not.

The question is whether any Park City City Council Candidate will bring this up as an issue this Fall. Incumbent Andy Beerman is running for a second term, sits on the Mountain Accord, and has been an ardent supporter of the Mountain Accord. Mountain Accord seems like the perfect topic to differentiate one’s candidacy.

It will be interesting to see if most candidates play small ball or whether they decide to go big with something like Mountain Accord. I understand the draw of talking about something like “fixing transportation” but the concept is so amorphous. Attacking an incumbent based on his support of Mountain Accord and the potential negative impacts not only to local citizens but on local businesses (which hire citizens) seems so much more concrete.

It should be interesting to watch over the next few months.

h/t to the friend who sent the Jackie Biskupki email


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