City Council hears presentations about Museum, Downtown Lehi, Ranked Choice Voting, and Traverse Mountain Parks

Donna Barnes | Lehi Free Press

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In a three- hour work session, Lehi City Council, Mayor Mark Johnson, and members of City staff met in City Council chambers to hear presentations on five issues.

The first agenda item was a presentation on a proposal by Daniella Larsen, representative for the Hutchings Museum Board, who discussed building an addition to the current Hutchings Museum. Larsen presented a video explaining that many artifacts had been damaged by being stored in containers that had allowed mice and temperature variations to destroy irreplaceable items (see related story).

Esther Sumsion, President of the Hutchings Museum Board, explained the importance of preserving artifacts that have been part of collections given to the Museum. Sumsion commented, “In the 80’s the City was going to tear down the Hutchings Museum and the American Legion Hall, but because of the efforts of the Hutchings family and the veterans, the building was saved.”

Rebecca Beck spoke in opposition to the addition. Beck, Chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee said, “I want the building to stay like it is. An addition would hurt the integrity of the building.” American Legion Post Commander Quinn Allred spoke to the preservation of the structure. “It is the oldest American Legion Post to honor WWI vets in the state. We know the building must be brought up to code and we are indebted to the city for allowing us to keep it.”

Lehi City Administrator Jason Walker spoke to the problems of Lehi’s Downtown. Councilmember Paige Albrecht referred to a meeting held several years ago where more than 40 citizens came together to discuss the future of the historic district and take a survey to assess the feeling about the future of the area. Kim Struthers, Lehi City Planning Director, presented the results of the survey. “We have few standards to direct us as to what to do with development in the downtown area. The Parker Brown proposal has caused many issues to resurface in the last few months,” Struthers said.

Several queries were made by Councilmembers. Paul Hancock asked, “What does the public want downtown?” Mayor Johnson responded, “What people want is in conflict with commercial viability. What can we do to encourage money to be spent downtown?” Councilmember Albrecht said, “I have done my own parking study because I live in the area. I didn’t see a time when parking wasn’t available.” Councilmember Revill added, “There needs to be a reason to come downtown.” Councilmember Southwick shared an experience where a Lehi resident new to the area said, “I have no reason to go downtown.” Hancock said, “We make things too restrictive. Mom and Pop shops are not viable long term.” Southwick concluded, “We need to be careful about too much development because parking could be a problem.”

After the last survey was conducted, Struthers said results indicated three design elements that most respondents found most important: attractive landscaping, on-street parking, and wider sidewalks. Respondents liked design examples from downtown areas in Midvale and Cedar City.

Johnson and Revill commented on the unique problems associated with downtown Lehi. Revill said many historic areas are not located on a main thoroughfare to get from point A to point B. Johnson said, “Not a lot of people know the compromises made in the previous upgrade of Lehi Main Street.”

A discussion about the recent project proposed by Parker Brown spurred the discussion on historic Main Street. The Parker Brown project recommendation from the Planning Commission is on the agenda for the December 13 meeting.

The longest presentation of the meeting was regarding the Ranked-Choice Voting proposal. Shaye Ruitenbeek, management analyst for Lehi, presented the findings. The councilmembers were given results from cities across the nation that had tried this method of voting. There are currently only ten cities across the nation who use this type of voting and only one state.

Ruitenbeek said there is no available data on how this type of voting affected voter turn-out. She said the benefits were in the cost savings. The challenges were educating the voters and candidates. It was pointed out that there was a lawsuit pending in one area where RCV was used. Councilmember Condie asked, “What problem is this trying to solve? It seems this is a solution looking for a problem.”

Albrecht asked Marilyn Banansky her feeling about the project. “I can’t definitively say how this will work. Good luck,” said Banasky. A discussion about previous elections in Lehi was held and how this new way of voting might have affected the outcome. The councilmembers unanimously agreed to add this item to the December 11 meeting agenda.

Two additional presentations were made to the councilmembers. Lehi City Parks and Facilities Manager, Steve Marchbanks presented a proposal to re-sequence the building of parks in Traverse Mountain. Walker commented the City Council was not in favor of the re-sequencing. “How will this be financed?” Walker asked. Carl Karren, Traverse Mountain HOA President commented that they are presently building a trailhead to connect the trail system which was part of the proposal for the re-sequencing. Karren said the City has already received $3 million in impact fees and it has not been allocated in Lehi City’s budget. Walker said the money has almost been spent. Karren said, “We want Lehi connected to Traverse Mountain.”

Traverse Mountain resident, Rob Ludlow spoke to the necessity of building another park in Traverse Mountain. “Re-sequencing is the right thing to do,” he said.

Dean Lundell, Lehi City Finance Director gave the council members an update on the budget. He said, “Sales tax is distributed in Lehi by the state. Of a dollar, .50 goes to Lehi and the other .50 goes in a fund at the state level and is distributed by population. Lehi’s fund balance has rebounded after last year and is at the level where the state mandates that it be allocated.”

There was also an update presented by Marlin Eldred on the pedestrian bridge across Triumph Blvd.

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