Resident passion soars at town hall meeting
Nov 29, 2016 03:17PM ● Published by Cassie Goff
Residents listen to a description of the current efforts for improving Wasatch Boulevard. (Mike Johnson/CHED)
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By Cassie Goff | firstname.lastname@example.org
BYU students partnered with the Cottonwood Heights Community and Economic Development Department (CHED) to conduct a town hall meeting focusing on the current issues and future solutions for Wasatch Boulevard. The meeting was held on Wednesday, Nov. 9. All residents who live within the Wasatch area were invited to attend. The city sent out around 1,800 invitations to residents.
The night began with CHED Director Brian Berndt describing what the goal was for the night and the current status of the boulevard.
“We are looking at impacts from Wasatch Boulevard. We are going out for funding sources to start studying it to a greater extend with other councils,” Berndt said. “Part of the work is the initial conversation with you tonight. Nothing has been determined, but this will start the conversation.”
Cottonwood Heights City Councilman Tee Tyler spoke to the group after Berndt addressed some resident questions.
“Over the past seven years, I have emailed (Utah Department of Transportation) regarding the future of Wasatch Boulevard three times, as an interested citizen,” Tyler said. “There’s a lot of passion in the room tonight. We need to think about what we can do about the commuter traffic through Sandy and the ski traffic, which is seasonal, but can be worse. Currently, there are just under 30,000 cars commuting on the boulevard each day, and it’s just going to grow.”
A few of the residents in attendance asked about UDOT’s role with the road.
“UDOT owns Wasatch. It is the only road in the city we do not own,” Tyler said.
Berndt said the information gathered that night will help UDOT with further decisions.
“They want to be partnering with us as well as Sandy, Holladay, Ski Utah and the ski resorts,” Berndt added.
As breakout discussion groups began to form, Tyler reminded the residents the purpose of the night was to get solution ideas.
“The BYU students are going to be facilitators to feed information to the planning department and then to UDOT,” Tyler said.
BYU students Lauren Waters, Nick Estrada and Moussa Cissok divided all the attendees into three groups. When the attendees arrived, they received a questionnaire, which determined the group they would be in. The paper provided questions for the groups to discuss. The attendees were invited to write down their thoughts and turn the paper back into their respective student.
“We are interested in helping the city. We are getting together to talk about solutions,” Estrada said as he addressed the residents in his group.
“There’s no agenda here, just tell us what you think. We don’t want to focus on negative things but we want to find some solutions and be productive,” CHED Associate Planner Andy Hulka chimed in.
Many of the issues focused on traffic concerns, Oktoberfest, property taxes, noise, residential areas, open space, mass transit, increased development, pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as mountain and open space preservation.
Some of the solutions discussed were lowering speed limits; widening lanes, as well as not widening lanes; adding more speed limit signs, street lights and turn lanes along the boulevard; widening Danish Road; making the entire area residential and adding sound barriers; mass transit additions and relative boundaries; less dense housing units; creating bonds for trails and open space; having developers be responsible for open space; creating a walkable community; allowing canyon visitors to park in business garages on the weekends; creating a group of people to help with community issues; and having more communication and representation with UDOT.
“We will be collectively pulling all the comments together to find commonalties,” Berndt said. “There will be a spot on the city’s website with all the comments.”