Heber City’s mayor addressed members of the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce in the first ever state of the city address on Tuesday. You can find the entirety of the address at KPCW.org.
Heber Mayor Kelleen Potter addressed members of the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce at their monthly lunch meeting on Tuesday at the UVU Wasatch campus. Mayor Potter started her speech discussing what the city considered victories throughout the year including growth of office space in town, growth of the healthcare industry as well as retail and housing. Mayor Potter spent a large portion of her speech discussing transportation in the valley.
“Let’s talk first about the airport which is a seven-letter word not a four-letter word. The elephant in the room is our master plan update. First, I want to clear up some misunderstandings about the airport. There was never a public vote about an airport upgrade previous councils had opted to delay that decision about whether the airport be upgraded. There’s never even been a vote by the council and there’s no secret plan to upgrade the airport I assure you.”
Mayor Potter said that they plan to make the Airport Master Plan Update very transparent and public. The city is losing FAA funding because they have not updated complied with the requirement of updating the Airport Master Plan.
“Once you reach a certain number of landings and takeoffs of C airplanes the FAA says it’s a safety issue that you need to widen the runway. There’s some degree of safety gained from a wider runway. So, they want us to do that because we’ve taken funds from the FAA. I think they’ve been 27 times we’ve signed documents saying thank you FAA for the money we promise we will keep a safe airport, we will keep it operating definitely we will do all these things. Because of that we’re in a tough position. Because people back in the day that decided this probably couldn’t have anticipated the growth and the success of area and the areas around us and the number of people that want to land here.”
Mayor Potter also discussed the success of the Heber Valley Railroad and plans to create a new storage building that can hold 15 train cars to protect them from vandalism and the weather. The final transportation discussion point was regarding Heber’s Main Street.
“It’s probably one of the number one things that people ask about. What about our Main Street? There’s too much traffic, you can’t walk, you can’t cross the street. As long as I was on council we were always pushing UDOT saying we got that one crosswalk way across from the park, but it’s been really difficult because it’s not our road. It’s a federal road, it’s a state road and we do the best we can to try and manage the traffic and the speed and all the other things that go on there.”
Mayor Potter emphasized the role Heber’s Community Alliance for Main Street, or CAMS, is playing in the city’s work to take back Main Street.
“Their whole mission is to restore and improve our beloved historic Main Street for our current residents and for future generations. They have committees such as beautification, last year we had people out there in conjunction with the chamber planting flowers cleaning up just trying to make it a more beautiful take pride in our community just all the kind of things that you want to see in our Main Street. Art in public places, you’ll be seeing some fun art go up. And activities such as our Christmas tree lighting. This is the first time we’ve done this big tree lighting at City Hall. For those who weren’t there, there were the lights the music. Even one of my daughters’ friends said ‘I feel like I’m in the hallmark movie or something.’”
She said that they are anxious to start an environmental study looking at the bypass/parkway study so that the route can be established.
“I feel like we’re kind of being held hostage because there’s so many issues around that area. Is there going to be a school there? Is there going to be an airport expansion all these things but we don’t know where that road is going to go. We want it to be the optimal place for financial reasons after transportation. Then it will be funded, no one anticipates it being funded in less than 10 years.”
Mayor Potter also discussed the Heber Light and Power project that will result in powerlines running through the northern portion of the Valley. She said the board looked into burying the lines but at four times the cost of putting them overhead the board decided against it although they are willing to work with any entity that wants to pay the difference in any area where the powerlines will run. Mayor Potter mentioned other mitigation efforts for the project.
“So the direction has been to use wooden (poles) whenever possible, bury the underbuild. There’s a giant substation supposed to go in behind the train, we’re hoping to move that relocate it. That will take some of the burden off of that area of town, but the conclusion is we need power. We need the power transmitted here from other places. So, we’re taking baby steps forward to try and figure out how to best mitigate this.”
She also mentioned that Heber Light and Power will be reaching out to the public soon to see if citizens would want to change the energy resource mix the utility uses. Mayor Potter closed her address by inviting citizens to become involved with the general plan update, which will serve as a blueprint for city officials in the coming 30 years.
“I don’t think it’s ever been more crucial because of the demand and the changes that are happening that we get a lot of involvement we have a lot of communication and come together. Because everyone is not going to get their way none of us are going to be happy with every decision that comes. Hopefully we can be respectful of people who are trying to work hard and make a difference and try to create the community. We have an amazing community and I’m just so honored to be able to be here and want to be able to do the best we can as a city to make it what everyone wants. Preserve what we love and create what we want from the future.”