Monday, April 23, 2007

4/16/07 Dog & Pony Show Excerpts

For those who don't have time to read or listen to the whole transcript, here are a few interesting excerpts from the mayor's presentation at WSU:

On the WSU land study:

You know, I think that by no means is the door shut on Weber State land up above. Like I said, I don’t know how you can say for 50 years we didn’t need this land and then all of a sudden in the last three months it’s indispensable. I think there’s a lot of farce in all of that, in all that’s gone on in that whole study and that whole process. . . .

So, that’s why I say there’s really a lapse of academic integrity in this whole study, and what is really necessary and in the whole master planning that has gone on, how can you all of a sudden go 180° from not needing and not buildable to we gotta have it and there’s absolutely no way we can sell it, I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense, especially when you look at the projections.

On WSU Geology and Geography professors:

. . . a year ago there were professors here in the Geography and Geology departments who were saying, “It’s impossible to build on that hillside. It’s ridiculous that Chris Peterson’s proposing to build anything on there because I know, I’ve done research, and you can’t build on there.” And now all of a sudden now it is buildable. All of a sudden they had the DCFM come up and then the state guys said you can build on it and where’s the outcry now? Why aren’t those guys saying, “Wait a minute, it’s not buildable. I did research. I’ve done research and you can’t build on there.”

On the environmental impacts of the project:

. . . we actually did a study to see what kind of impact this would have and this has the ability, if 7 percent of skiers of today that were going to Snowbasin decided that they were going to use the gondola and go to this new resort, in some way or even ski back home from Snowbasin, if just 7 percent of the skiers did that, that would eliminate 28 thousand pounds of emissions from the environment from his area every year. So, that’s a significantly positive impact.

. . . it’s in Chris’ best interest to have it remain looking like a wilderness kind of area, while creating access to recreation and experience. So, he has, I think, the same incentives that environmentalist would have. I actually watched a debate between he and the president of the Sierra Club, who happens to teach here at Weber State, over environmental impacts, and it was fascinating. Chris Peterson is very in-tune with environment issues and concerns and mitigation. I mean, he had just great retorts to the concerns that were brought up about environmental impact.

On skiing conditions in Malan’s Basin:

This last year was the worst year in a long time and he went up and they actually had ski footage in mid-March. So, a month ago they had footage of skiing up in Malan’s Basin. Everybody’s says it’s the west side of the mountain, you can’t ski there, there’s no snow, but I mean, in the worst snow year we’ve had in a long time, in March when it was 70° down here, they shot some pretty incredible footage of snow up in Malan’s Basin. So, they do get pretty good snow. They will have to do snow making. They are planning on doing snow making up in Malan’s Basin just because that kind of helps insulate you from the weather a little bit.

On the Snowbasin connection:

Chris Peterson doesn’t have any arrangements with Snow Basin. They’ve made it perfectly clear that these are completely separate operations. They don’t have any part of this, and Chris is doing this on his own. So, the proposal is just to build Malan’s Basin and get it up into Malan’s Basin Resort. My personal belief is that they will connect at some point. You look at every other resort that are next to each other, it’s just a matter of time they connect. There’s just synergy in connecting resorts and making it all work together. I believe that will happen here as well, but that’s not what’s being proposed in this first stage.

On heating and cooling the gondola cabins:

In fact, if you ride them up at Snowbasin in the winter you’re taking off clothing by the time you get to the top. Even on a pretty cold day they actually stay pretty warm. In fact, many of the gondola cars end up opening the windows to keep some air circulating even in the winter. So, they stay moderate in the winter. In the summer months there are actually gondolas in very, very humid, hot climates. There’s one in Portugal, Japan, China, and in Columbia. You can actually build then so they have huge sections that can come out and create ventilation for the summer months so that you can have just wind that just rushes through the cabin in the summer.

On the impact to homeowners along the gondola route:

So, we actually got in a cherry picker and we went along the entire route and we videoed the route and we took pictures, kind of a 360° panoramic view along the way, to see how does this affect the neighborhood. We also met; we invited every homeowner in the entire corridor to come and meet with us and talk to them. . . . Very few people expressed concerns, especially after we passed around the pictures and said, “This is what it would do,” and they looked at them.

On the streetcar proposal:

Nope, the gondola would be the connection between commuter rail and campus, so otherwise there are no plans. The rail plans that they looked at between Weber State and 23rd and Wall are prohibitive. That means $100 million, and as much as taxpayers love you students, I do not think they are going to tax themselves. And the federal government would pay for about half that, so the community would only have to come up with the mere $50 million, and I don’t see them taxing themselves for $50 million to create a rail system between downtown and Weber State. I just don’t think that’s realistic. So, other than bus, I think the only hope for a transit connection between the intermodal hub, the commuter rail and Weber State, is the gondola . . .

On the time needed to complete the project:

His question is when do I anticipate this being completed and I’ve given up trying to answer that question because I’m always wrong. I’m really reliant on Chris Peterson bringing his proposal forward. I mean, the Urban Gondola would take about six months to do. The Mountain Gondola would probably take nine months to construct from the time you say, “go.” That would be the first part. The first thing that would happen would be the gondola being built, and so from the time it is approved and the proposal has to come out. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of public dialogue and debate about it, and then after approval you are talking six to nine months for the work to be done. That’s about the best time I can give you.

On property values and jobs created:

I do see us getting more upper-end because those are the kinds of jobs we’re bringing in. For some, that’s negative, it means property values will go up. If you own a home, that’s great news; if you’re looking to buy a home in ten years, that’s bad news. So, it’s all a matter of perspective and where you are in life, but overall it’s good for the community because it creates that rising tide. Even the people at the lower levels are positively impacted by more jobs. The result of this, we believe, will be another 3-5 thousand jobs over the next 5-10 years.

On the prospect of losing ski companies if the gondola is not built:

We have certainly the ability to lose many of these companies. We actually, Mike Dowse was recorded as saying, he is president of Solomon Atomic, the parent company, and Mike Dowse said, “Look, we have a ten year lease. We’re here. We believe in Ogden; we believe in the vision of what’s going on; but, if things don’t pan out in ten years we’ll be looking for a new home.”

On what would happen without Peterson:

Her question is, “What if Chris Peterson didn’t fund the project, where would the funding come from?” If Chris Peterson doesn’t do the project there isn’t a project.

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