Mountain Accord is creeping its way through every legislative hoop without much resistance. Similar to a runaway train it will crash through anything that gets into its path.
Mountain Accord is a study group established to figure out the best way to get paying customers into the Central Wasatch. It is built on four main pillars, which are; transportation, recreation, environmental, and economical. These four subjects are to be studied and have public comment provided before moving forward. Mountain Accord has developed a proposed blueprint for transportation.
This is the transportation section of the blueprint, and it shows a variety of options being considered for each canyon. In Little Cottonwood Canyon there are many different options, but some of the more focused options are light rail trains. These trains would go from the mouth of the canyon to the town of Alta. At the top of Alta, there would be tunnels created that would connect Park City, and Big Cottonwood Canyon together. There are proposed routes and transportation changes for Parley’s Canyon as well. There are three other blueprints focused on the other areas of study found at mountainaccord.com.
This planning group will affect all residents in Utah
Many Utah residents have no idea that Mountain Accord exists. This is something that will affect everyone who lives in the state as one single aspect of the plans for Little Cottonwood could cost more than 2 billion dollars. Mountain Accord is no stranger to the media; this article from The Salt Lake Tribune is written by Todd Leeds who writes about some of the steps taken by the Mountain Accord and how it is being rushed. There are other articles about Mountain Accord located on the website’s media tab. There is a potential of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money that will be spent to accomplish some of the desired goals established in the proposed blueprints. Another example of wasted money is UTA officials taking several trips to Europe to study the ski resorts and the transportations there. This has been in the news recently as a great controversy; UTA board member resigns after controversial Swiss trip. There were several officials who went on this trip to Switzerland including Mountain Accord public relations specialist Laynee Jones. They were looking into transportation systems.
Mountain Accord and the NEPA process
Mountain Accord has recently entered the National Environmental Protection Agency process, commonly known as NEPA. Created January 1st 1970, this process was created to make sure plans that requested government funding are legitimate. Representatives from the government come and do a study of their own based on the studies already performed. Once the studies are completed there will be a decision whether or not to fund the proposed plans.
This has been a rushed process. The public has only recently been learning of the studies performed by Mountain Accord, and it has already entered the NEPA process.
Neighborhoods are outraged about the Mountain Accord
There are those who live in the canyons or at the mouth of the canyons who are very concerned about the Mountain Accord and its proposed plans. The concerned public began taking actions to try and prevent some of the developments planned that will affect their lives. A concerned resident and environmentalist stated, “The public are going to pay to lose their canyon, and make the wealthy elite prosper even more.” She helped raise awareness, and other concerned neighbors who were enlightened because of her created Little Cottonwood Canyon Communities. LCCC’s goal is to make sure the voices of the people living in or near the canyons are heard. They only learned of Mountain Accord two years ago. Once they had heard of it they immediately took action. They created meetings inviting the public and representatives from Mountain Accord. Addressing issues and concerns they had, not only with their situations but as well with the proposed plans presented.
Utah needs to be better informed of Mountain Accord. This group was established in 2013, yet the public has only been aware and able to participate since February of 2015. Since the blueprint was released to the public, Mountain Accord has been making huge decisions. One year of public input is not nearly enough time and in fact most Utah citizens are still very unaware of even the existence of this planning group. The legislative leaders need to do more to inform the public they represent. Mountain Accord has the ability to do the good they claim they want to in preserving the Wasatch Front, but if left unchecked and funded by parties with too much to gain it could prove disastrous for Utah residents.