As the stock market has dropped over 6% in the last 5 days, the Chinese economy is slowing, and there are signs that boom we’ve seen since the end of the great recession is coming to a close, I feel bad for those of us that will be negatively impacted by the next recession.
However, I can’t help but think that what is coming will likely benefit Park City and the Snyderville Basin as a whole. Much like the forest that needs a small fire to occasionally clear out the underbrush and foster stronger trees, a short recession may provide a cooling off period for our area.
Over the past five years, we’ve constantly heard that population growth that is coming. We’ve stared into the face of growing transportation problems. We’ve concerned ourselves with all the building that is happening. Yet, solving a crisis when you are in the middle of it, is hard to do.
Take for example, Summit County’s Transportation Manager, Caroline Ferris. She was on KPCW a few days ago when Leslie Thatcher asked what we can do about transportations issues right now. Ms Ferris answered with “We’d ask people to carpool.” While that’s never going to happen, I don’t blame her for that answer. Does anyone else have a better answer that we could put in place on Monday? Yet, she and her cohorts in Park City are fighting fires while trying to figure out how to prevent even bigger fires. It’s hard.
Or perhaps take development in the Snyderville Basin. There is immense pressure to build here. There is money chasing projects. However, our planners don’t really have the tools in place and haven’t been able to fully vet ideas that may help us put growth in the right spots. It’s partly due to fighting the daily battle and not having time to craft a plan to win the war.
Finally, consider the various bonds and taxes that may be floated this November. Over the past year there have been talks of transportation bonds, another try at the school bond, recreation bonds, etc. Likewise, sales taxes and property values are high, thus funding more and more and more. In a recession it will be hard to pass bonds, sales tax revenues will be down, property values won’t rise, and lot’s of new property won’t be added to the tax base. It’s been a great few years financially but that won’t go on forever. It may be better to figure that out sooner rather than later before we overextend and over commit ourselves.
What a mild economic downturn really provides is time. It provides our leaders with an opportunity to figure out what the people really NEED. It provides transportation personnel and planners the chance to make better decisions because they aren’t consumed by what’s happening in five minutes. They can think about what’s best long-term. It reduces the number of people who will move here (recessions slow migration).
Please don’t get me wrong and think I’m hoping for a replay of 2008. However, I do think the garden variety recession will do some good for Park City and the Snyderville Basin. During that time, hopefully our leaders will use that opportunity to make huge strides in preparing us for the next period of growth.
Out of the next recession, we may get back to a semblance of normalcy not seen since 2005-2006. Perhaps interest rates will rise to normal levels. Our older population of locals who are likely savers, will have more to spend. Building of homes at Park City Heights, East Creek Ranch, and Silver Creek Village will move forward moderately instead of gangbusters, because if interest rates are higher people can’t afford as much house. Perhaps, even overall growth will occur at a moderate and sustainable level.
Personally, I’m not looking forward to what will likely happen over the next 18 months, but we as a community may be much better off coming out the back end.