I have often thought of this quote from the movie The Godfather when thinking about Mountain Accord and the people involved. Mountain Accord is a “process” by which leaders from across the region are officially working together to “preserve the Wasatch” but in reality each “partner” has different motives. Some groups cooperate because they think there will be something in it for them. Some groups cooperate because they’ve had few successes and this is the next-best chance to try and find at least a little something. Some groups are worried that if they don’t cooperate they may may be handed their hat — or worse.
Whenever someone says, “we must keep a seat at the Mountain Accord table,” which they say often, I think of the mafia. “If you don’t keep a seat at the table, you never know when your __________ will be cut off.”
Yet, I’ve never felt so strong an opinion about the Mountain Accord as when I read an article from the Cottonwood Holladay Journal. Many of us in Park City have been concerned with Mountain Accord and its proposed tunnel through Big Cottonwood to PC
MR. Yet, that’s where our outrage stopped. The tunnel was put on hold and WE FELT GOOD (mission accomplished). Yet, as history has taught us, the battle often continues to rage. The problem is that while we think it doesn’t affect us, the battle will eventually come back to our front door. Such is the likely case with Mountain Accord.
Let’s begin with a quote from the Cottonwood Holladay Journal (CWHJ):
“Twenty business owners and concerned citizens, telling members of the media (at least four major news outlets were in attendance) that officers in Cottonwood Heights Police Department were ordered to specifically target customers of the Canyon Inn. This was done in an effort to put them out of business, to make way for the new development project.”
What new development is the article referring to? That would be the alleged development of two hotels and TRANSIT CENTER centrally located to the proposed route of a train that would take visitors up Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is a proposed concept under the Mountain Accord. According to the article, who is allegedly one of the developers of this land? Wayne Niederhauser, both a member of the Utah State Senate and an Executive Member of Mountain Accord. He is not only an Executive Member of the Mountain Accord and a Senator, but he was responsible for asking the Utah State Legislature to fund the Mountain Accord in 2015.
So, it seems a member of the Utah Legislature has been instrumental in getting funding for a project that may eventually include a train up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Meanwhile, he is reportedly a developer for a project that allegedly appears (according a source from the CWHJ article) to be trying to use a local city police force to influence people to stop frequenting local businesses that are on the land wanted for development, thus trying to put said businesses under. If these businesses were to fold, it may enable a transit center and hotels to be built that would further the developer’s cause. This would then likely make this location central to transit for people coming from the airport (or wanting to stay near to light rail).
I should note that the CWJH article says that “Kelvyn Cullimore, Mayor of Cottonwood Heights, has denied any wrongdoing, and has called Jim Stojack [Canyon Inn owner] a ‘rabble rouser.’ Cullimore has said that his intentions have ‘always and only been to help small business owners and the community of Cottonwood Heights by keeping the roads safe.'”
OK, you’re in Park City. Why do you care about what happens at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon (besides potentially missing out on Porcupine’s delicious Wahso Fish Tacos)? The problem is that, if true, it shows the lengths at which influential people may go to get what they want.
Furthermore, by our governments saying “let’s keep a seat at the table” on Mountain Accord, it appears we are turning a blind eye to what may really be happening. We are saying that we need to stay involved so that someone may fund a transportation study for Summit County someday while businesses, according to CWHJ, are getting pushed out for some developer’s gain.
That isn’t right. That’s not who we should be. That’s not who we are.
If Mountain Accord really has Executive Committee Members profiting from their role at other business’ expense, we need to say enough is enough. We need to stand up for ourselves and contain the issue while we can. We need to do whatever we can to make sure Mountain Accord does not impact us negatively at some developer(s) expense.
To be fair, I’d only heard vague accusations about this issue until this CWHJ article was published. I have no proof of any wrong doing other than what was stated there. Yet, sometimes you have to take a step back and ask if we should be involved in the Mountain Accord process at all. At some point it just becomes a mess that isn’t worth the time and distraction.
The problem, when you are dealing with the “mafia”, is that you don’t know if you have something they want, until it’s too late. It’s not too hard to envision Park City being something somebody wants.
If you have time this weekend, I would encourage you to read the full article from the Cottonwood Holladay Journal and form your own opinion.