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Second annual Utah Valley Visioning Summit emphasizes priorities

By Carley Porter daily Herald - | Apr 17, 2019
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Envision Utah, partnering with Utah Valley Visioning Summit, split people into groups to discuss six topics pertaining to Utah County growth at the second annual summit on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

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Envision Utah and the Utah Valley Visioning Summit had groups present the "top 10" priorities they came up with for six different topics pertaining to Utah County growth on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

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Utah Valley Visioning Summit attendees voted on priorities under six topics Envision Utah identified as key for Utah County growth on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

The second annual Utah Valley Visioning Summit was a lot like the first summit, with one major difference. This time, attendees were working with real feedback from residents.

After last year’s summit, attendees came up with three key growth factors they thought should be focused on when it came to managing growth in Utah County: workforce and education, housing and transportation. After going out into the community, however, summit leaders discovered three other key metrics residents wanted to focus on as well: air quality, water quality and quantity, and agriculture and open space.

These three additional metrics were added after the summit partnered with Envision Utah, a group dedicated to ensuring Utahns can maintain the quality of life they want while promoting sustainable growth. And Utah County is the place to test that, because, according to Val Hale, summit co-chair and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Utah County has been driving the state economy for over a decade. At the end of the event Wednesday, Hale said this event is important to ensure following generations have something they can enjoy.

“We can’t just continue to grow haphazardly … it’s really important that we do this, not just for our sakes, but for our children’s and our grandchildren’s sake,” Hale said. “30, 40, 50 years from now, I hope our grandkids point back to this day and say, ‘Thank goodness they did that.'”

Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. John Curtis. R-Provo, spoke about much of the same, relating that he had moved to Utah County with his wife to raise their children because in the ’80s, Utah County reminded him of the Salt Lake County he grew up in. He joked that he didn’t want his children to move to San Pete County because it reminded them of the Utah County they grew up in.

Beginning in late fall of 2018, Envision Utah has held workshops in Utah County, in addition to conducting an online survey at https://utahvalleyvisioning.org/. Only 400 people or so attended a total of 12 workshops, while the survey had just a little over 2,700 responses. However, it still gave this year’s summit the information they needed to come up with ideas of what to prioritize in Utah County development, which is phase 2 of the Utah Valley Visioning Summit.

”People are kind of hungry for something like this,” Ari Bruening, president and COO of Envision Utah, said. “People have seen the growth, they’ve seen the implications for traffic and so on and are really wanting to come together and think about what does all this growth mean for me, how do I make sure that we still have a high quality of life as we’re growing.”

Nearly 100 people attending the summit broke apart into six key groups representing each of the key topics identified by the summit and Utah County residents to come up with 10 priorities for each aspect of development, then voting on two out of the 10 that they deemed the most important. 

Now, with this data, Envision Utah will begin working with groups in the summer around the six topic areas to “model scenarios.” That is to say, Envision Utah will work with groups, such as Mountainland Association of Governments for transportation and the Central Utah Water Conservancy District for water quality and quantity, to essentially run different ideas through a simulator and come up with sustainable models and scenarios for Utah County growth.

Then, in the fall, the scenarios created will be available to the public to give feedback on, through workshops, and through a survey at http://utahvalleyvisioning.org.

”We really want a lot of people to weigh in on the scenarios,” Bruening said.

Learn more at https://www.envisionutah.org/ and https://utahvalleyvisioning.org/.

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