Council Meeting - April 18, 2023
Dear neighbors and friends,
Councilmember Kahler presented our “thought” for this meeting—and it really set the tone for a productive session. She spoke about the way we engage with one another, especially as it pertains to public discourse.
We don’t always need to agree, and perhaps we’re better off if we don’t. We learn and grow from discussion and disagreements, not from being right all the time. The exchange of ideas is where the real power resides. By respecting the process and listening to others, we can achieve great things.
Here’s a look at some of the important topics we covered during this meeting.
Our meeting began with a closed session related to imminent or pending litigation. We’ve had quite a few of these lately, and it’s illegal to discuss what goes on during these meetings. That said, all decisions pertaining to closed sessions will be made in public at some point. It’s also important to note that we don’t vote in closed sessions. We simply hear the information and direct staff and attorneys based on the details. Again, final decisions are always made during the public meeting.
The first public item of the work session was regarding the redevelopment of the Avon and Ideal theaters and the parking required. The discussion was directed toward the idea that we shouldn’t punish redevelopment for lacking parking. The end game here is a parking authority with one or two structures to allow for ample downtown parking. This will be increasingly important as developers seek to improve the downtown area. There are a lot of exciting things coming!
Landmark Design has been contracted by the city to establish park standards and minimum requirements, whether publicly funded or built and dedicated with developments. Some of the standards will be very specific as they pertain to the physical construction details of the park, while others will allow for more flexibility. This flexibility is important as parks should reflect the character of each neighborhood.
The concept of the Main Street Park is a good start. There’s an idea to build a new orchestra area that is larger and better equipped than the current bandstand, allowing it to be more centralized. There are also ideas around improving the play area and spaces for vendors who participate in Market on Main. All these ideas are just concepts at this point, but it’s exciting to look ahead.
The consent agenda passed, but I asked that two items be removed and voted on separately.
One was the approval of the minutes from the meeting on March 21st, which I abstained from due to my absence. The other was the appointment of Nancy O’Toole and Christen Thompson to the Parks, Open Space, Trails, and Trees committee (POSTT). I was concerned about having Nancy (who is a paid grant writer) being a “regular member” of the board. I felt it would be better if she serves as a non-voting member. This is because they may vote on grants Nancy gets paid to write. Her advice and input are very valuable, and I look forward to her working as a non-voting member of the board.
Regarding Christen Thompson, I expressed that I didn’t know him personally, but had seen some of his social media posts. I was concerned that some of his posts are made without complete information. After a productive discussion, we approved his appointment. I look forward to seeing what ideas he brings forward as a member of the committee.
Heber City Branding
Ignition Creative Group was hired to update the Heber City logo and branding. The presentation was wonderful, and I appreciate Ryan Bunnell’s efforts to give our city a brand that mirrors who we are as a community. Bringing the history of our city to the present and trying to connect that to the future is a big task, and the logo presentation was a great first step.
Assistant City Manager Mark Smedley also brought forward a naming strategy for the Eastern Bypass Road from Highway 40 to Center Street on the northeast side of town. We discussed the issue of family names during the council retreat earlier this year and decided not to go that route. Rachel made a motion to name the road “Heritage Farms Parkway,” and this was accepted unanimously.
The Sawmill group has been seeking an amendment to their Master Development Agreement (MDA) for quite some time. There are a few new lots and a park that will be designed with the standards of the North Village Overlay Zone (NVOZ) parks. This is a win-win for the city and the developers.
Road Maintenance Program
The city has a large road maintenance project coming this summer. Slurry seal and chip seal will be spread all throughout the city. This helps maintain the roads and extends the life of the surfaces. There are certain places that will need more maintenance, and we will tend to those as well. We voted to award the contract for this work to Staker Parson.
POSTT Committee Priorities
We had a presentation from Scott House pertaining to our priorities with the POSTT Committee. They are very concerned with connectivity and trails in the city, which is wonderful. We want to make sure there are sufficient trails to provide safe transportation and recreation throughout the city.
I mentioned that it’s important to direct the main connective trail down Center Street. 300 South has been a consideration, but Mike Johnston and I asked if a sidewalk in this area would provide the connectivity we are seeking. There is more work to do here. If you live on 300 South, there is going to be a project to demonstrate where the smaller modified trail would go if approved.
City Manager Contract Renewal
Lastly, I’d like to discuss our City Manager and his contract renewal. Matt Brower has done great work for Heber City. He is very professional and has built a world-class team to serve our needs every day. I am consistently impressed with his professionalism and attention to detail in his role. With this in mind, we voted to renew his contract until 2026. This gives him a little more job security and a framework for the next few years. The vote was 5-1 with the only “no” vote coming from Mayor Franco. Unfortunately, Mayor Franco gave no explanation for this in the public meeting. This is very frustrating. We were not given the opportunity to discuss her concerns or address her reasoning. Nonetheless, I congratulate Matt and look forward to the next few years.
The work of Heber City continues. It doesn’t seem to rest, and there are always new issues to tackle. Here’s the good news: We can accomplish great things when we work together. Thank you to all who serve on committees, volunteer, and support local causes. The community is only as good as your efforts, and I truly appreciate all we can accomplish together.
D. Scott Phillips
Heber City Council