Looking Forward in the Heber Valley
On February 18, the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted their monthly luncheon addressing some of the growth issues and changes taking place here. Nicole and I attended and thought we should pass on what we learned to our customers who may be interested in learning.
Mayor Kelleen Potter was the first to present. Her focus was the Envision 2050 Public Outreach program, an incentive that forecasts the movement and growth of Heber City in the next 30 years. This incentive was created as an attempt to decrease the intensity of the challenges that may arise. Potter touched on some of the most pressing issues starting with the rerouting of Hwy 40 away from Main Street Heber. While this project has been in discussion for decades now, Mayor Potter reiterated that it is an inevitable change that will be taking place once all studies have been completed and the money is set up and in place. Currently, federal environmental agencies are conducting various studies along the proposed routes to see how to mitigate negative impacts to our wetlands and open areas.
There is also a Parks initiative which includes a new and improved dog park for one thing, with ideas taken from the community members who have used the current one and know of it’s flaws. There is discussion about what the park on Main Street should look like in the future and what changes need to be made. Some land on 500 North has been purchased by the city with the potential hope of creating a park there as well.
Main Street Beautification projects are underway as the city and the CAMS committee plan to find solutions for items such as repairing and cleaning up the light poles and resolving tree care issues.
Heber Farmer’s Market has been re-branded to the Heber Market on Main. There will be different entertainment providers than we have seen in the past, theme nights and overall a more enhanced experience.
In an effort to keep Heber’s air clean, an idle free initiative is in the works. The city would like to begin by educating the citizens of the damage an idling car does to the air.
During the Q&A portion, Mayor Potter was asked by a local business owner about the lack of city-supported recycling options in the valley. The Mayor responded that, at this time, waste management is a county responsibility, although there is talk about changing it to city jurisdiction which could add options for recycling. Recycling is a hard market right now, which is another factor affecting the availability to offer recycling. Apparently, companies in China and other countries that used to purchase recycling materials for re-use have greatly decreased their demand and often waste collected for recycling is ending up in landfills anyway.
Following Mayor Potter, we heard from Mayor Celeste Johnson of Midway. She has worked for the past while ensuring that Midway does not lose its ability to charge the tourism tax which brings in a good majority of the revenue for the city. Mayor Johnson stated that this form of revenue should be in place for at least the next 7-8 years.
She has also been working with her committee members to brand the city of Midway and define its logo. There are currently several logo variations floating around, and the city is working to streamline it to something recognizable and encompassing of the culture and history that exists there.
A huge push is being made to create conservation easements that are managed by 3rd party companies in an effort to make it more difficult to sell open space to developers both now and in the future. There is a constant battle to create enough residences for those who desire to live in Midway while preserving agricultural land and keeping recreational spaces intact.
Another project in the pipelines is to get public transportation going through the town, as there has been a growing increase in interest over the last few years. The city has received money in the form of grants to perform studies, and there could be some pilot buses running the latter part of 2020.
The final speaker was Marilyn Crittenden, the only female representative of the Wasatch County Council. Ms. Crittenden repeatedly encouraged the chamber members to voice their opinions at council meetings and in the community, stating that the voice of the people is a built-in system of checks and balances that requires our cooperation. These checks and balances are incredibly important as we prepare to deal with a potential 100% growth in the next 20 years.
The potentially large Jordanelle area expansion brings challenges to the county in several areas, particularly in water and transportation. There will need to be highway expansions and new waterways put in.
There are nine Purple monitors in the metropolitan area that continuously monitor the air quality and anyone can go online at any time to purpleair.com to check the real-time readings.
Trail expansion is also on the minds of the council members, who have partnered with Wasatch Trails Foundation to connect and get a complete system of trails throughout the entire valley. This will also include a connection trail that runs from the Deer Creek trail to connect with the Provo Parkway trail!
Wasatch County Council meetings are held the 1, 2, and 3 Wednesdays of each month at 3 pm, with public hearings beginning at 6 pm.