There is room to grow in Eagle Mountain, and that’s definitely what the town is doing.

According to new Eagle Mountain Mayor Tom Westmoreland, the town’s openness is its greatest strength, and maintaining that feel while fostering growth is its biggest challenge. His goals for his time as mayor center on addressing this.

“With our size [according to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.7 square miles], we have the potential to eventually be one of the largest Utah cities in population. So we’re going to be growing quickly, and doing a lot of it,” Westmoreland said in an interview Monday with the Daily Herald. “We have the rare opportunity to design a city nearly from the ground up.”

Westmoreland said the town’s image as just an “outpost on the desert” is changing, as more residents make that long westerly drive to settle there. It still is a bedroom community, and will most likely never be a pass-through city, but as Westmoreland explained, that is the town’s draw.

“Our strength is our openness, our connection with our natural beauty and our outdoor lifestyle,” he said.

The city boasts of numerous mountain biking, hiking and off road vehicle paths, with opportunities for viewing native predator birds and other wildlife just a few miles away from downtown Eagle Mountain.

Westmoreland does not want financing the operation of the city’s systems to rest solely on the residents’ backs, though. With his background in business and marketing, one goal of his time in office is to emphasize economic growth, and market the city as a place for businesses to put down their own roots.

Eagle Mountain’s city center area will see the biggest growth in coming years. Westmoreland said though it will never compete with Lehi or cities along the freeway, he hopes to take advantage of the “spillover of tech industries.” He hopes businesses will be drawn to what Eagle Mountain offers – an uncongested, open city with outdoor recreation options just down the path and vistas from almost every point.

“We’ll be focusing on businesses that don’t need to be on I-15 – those looking for a place to live, work and play,” he said.

While the city needs business growth to survive, Westmoreland wants that growth to be well-planned, “so what we end up with is very desirable.” Continued development of an open space preservation plan is one of the first things the city will be tackling moving forward. Westmoreland said this plan includes protecting the city’s surrounding hilltops from development, preserving the area’s natural wildlife habitats, and assuring that housing growth doesn’t leave the residents feeling “squished in.”

Westmoreland is also looking forward to this summer’s upcoming completion of Phase 1A and 1B of the Cory B. Wride Memorial Park near the city’s center. To his knowledge, it is the first large, master-planned multi-use park in the area. It will feature baseball and soccer fields, pickleball and tennis courts, a very large splashpad water park and large playground areas. Because Eagle Mountain has one of the highest populations of those under 18, and family is very important to residents, this park will have “something for everyone,” he said.

“By the time this is finished, and the new high school goes in, this area will look very different,” he said.

Despite its growth, Westmoreland does not want the city’s government to grow large as well. He wants the city to provide for residents needs and to be prepared for the future – an example of which is the emergency generator pumps for the city’s water system he championed as a city councilman – but he believes in limited government, volunteerism and privatization of services. So far, he’s seen the city successfully managed this way.

“We have an exceptional staff, and I’m very pleased with the city council. There will always be differences of opinions, and that’s okay. We will clarify our vision and work towards our common goals,” he said.

Karissa Neely reports on Business and North County events, and can be reached at 801-344-2537 or kneely@heraldextra.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely