Community leaders, Chamber of Commerce members, educators, city staff members, and curious college students gathered in the fifth-floor conference room of the Clarke Building at Utah Valley University Wednesday, November 14, to kick off a county-wide process to plan for the future. The process has been titled “Valley Visioning.”
“We’re not trying to make every community just like the next,” said Cameron Martin of Utah Valley University, Co-Chair of the Valley Visioning Steering Committee. “In fact, it’s the kaleidoscope, the variety of our different communities that make it so beautiful in Utah Valley. We’re trying to keep that life and color in an orchestrated, organized manner, so that what happens here in the next 20, 40, 50 years has purpose.”
The Valley Visioning project started in April with the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce reaching out to other Chambers of Commerce in the valley and completing a survey about the future needs of Utah Valley. The three biggest concerns among the business leaders in Utah Valley were; transportation, affordable housing, and education.
“We’ve really seen a miracle in this valley – the growth has been phenomenal,” said Val Hale of the Governors Office of Economic Development and Co-Chair of the Valley Visioning Steering Committee. “But by and large it’s been accidental. It hasn’t been purposeful. We’ve had a lot of land and we’ve been able to grow and do what we want to do. Our margin of error has disappeared. We need to choose to be proactive and purposeful.”
“This process is critical for the valley, critical for BYU,” said Jim Rasband, Academic Vice President at Brigham Young University. Rasband’s law career focused on natural resource law and policy and he has been following the growth in Utah Valley with that perspective. “Part of our culture is the value we put on property rights and that will be considered as a part of this process. What’s happened in the last 20 or so years, however, is putting great pressure on our resources. As those resources grow scarcer, we have to conserve, care and plan for that resource. We also have resources that are increasing, like knowledge, education, and people. We have an abundance of wonderful things here. We’re excited at BYU to be engaged in this process.”
Utah County is projected to add a million people by 2065, 85% of that growth will be internal. Attendees of the Valley Visioning kick-off were presented with maps that show where land is still available in Utah County; Lehi and Eagle Mountain. “We’ll be squeezing in another million people in the valley. Eagle Mountain is at ground zero for that projected growth. We’re looking at where all these people will work, go to school, how they’ll get around. Will they be spending a lot of time in gridlock? We need to protect their quality of life,” said Tom Westmoreland, Mayor of Eagle Mountain. “If Eagle Mountain fills the demand for housing in Utah Valley, which we can do, we need to face the reality that the I-15 corridor will not be adequate to get residents of Eagle Mountain where they need to go.”
Envision Utah will be employing the same process for Valley Visioning that they have successfully used in the past with other major projects in Utah. Phase one, the current phase, focuses on engagement of stakeholders and the public to listen to what people in the area want for the future. Envision will hold workshops that are open to the public, the first one is on Wednesday, January 23, at the Outlets at Traverse Mountain in Lehi from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Phase one of Valley Visioning will end in Spring 2019.
The second phase of Valley Visioning, Spring 2019 to Fall 2019, involves consultants and professionals creating models of different scenarios for the future of Utah Valley. In phase three of the process, the scenarios will be offered to the public for feedback. The public will then select which elements of the scenarios resonate with them. The final vision will be released at a summit event.