Conflict between the Wasatch and Utah County commissions over Provo Canyon is intensifying, with commissioners accusing each other of being unfair and of taking political cheap shots.
Wasatch County Commissioner Pete Coleman said views on canyon construction are not being fairly presented to the public.Coleman said a symposium on Provo Canyon held at Brigham Young University presented only views supportive of the plan proposed by the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee. Groups with opposing views, like the Wasatch County Commission, should have been included, Coleman said.
Alan Culwell, president of the Natural Resources Law forum that sponsored the daylong symposium, said its purpose was to inform law students on the issue and that it was not a formal meeting on Provo Canyon.
"I'm flattered that he thought it was important enough that he's upset he wasn't invited," said Culwell.
Culwell said a list of issues relating to road construction in the canyon was drawn up, and participants were chosen who were best qualified to address those issues. There was nothing political about it, said Cul-well.
Participants included Dan Nelson, director of District 6 of the Utah Department of Transportation; Constance Lundberg, a Brigham Young University law professor who was involved in a lawsuit that stopped construction in the canyon several years ago; Provo Mayor Joseph Jenkins; Utah County Commissioner Gary Anderson; BYU botany professor Paul Cox; Sundance general manager Brent Beck; and actor-director Robert Redford.
Wasatch County commissioners favor the multiuse alternative proposed in the supplemental environmental impact statement on Provo Canyon.
"We have compromised on the road," Coleman said. "We wanted the mobility alternative (an alternative with a 60-mph speed limit), and have agreed on the multiuse road. We have not agreed to the compromises being suggested by the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee."
Coleman said the Utah County Commission had no authority to form a committee that made road alignment proposals extending beyond the Utah County boundary in Provo Canyon. Coleman said a request for more representation from Wasatch County on the committee was ignored by Utah County Commissioners Malcolm Beck and Anderson, committee co-chairmen.
Both commissioners deny such a request was ever made.
"Pete Coleman has been a member of this committee since its inception," said Anderson. "If he hasn't had input, it's because he hasn't been there."
Beck said the county had every right to form the parkway committee.
"We have authority to form any committee we want to," said Beck. "The committee was formed to provide comment for the SEIS process, and the alternative they came up with was taken to Deer Creek Dam because that was the logical cutoff point."
Beck denied giving support to Wasatch County's claims or having agreed to go with Wasatch County to the Transportation Commission to air those concerns.
"We will fight (construction of) a freeway in Provo Canyon," said Anderson. "I'm getting tired of Pete Coleman taking cheap shots at me and at our committee. He's been on the committee since its inception and has never objected to anything we did (in committee meetings)."
Anderson said he has made three attempts to get Coleman to sit down and talk differences out but has gotten no response.
"When I was a trial lawyer I learned that when you had the facts on your side, you argued the facts, and when you have the law on your side, you argued the law," said Anderson. "When you didn't have either, you just argued. I'm angry and hurt at his comments. I've bent over backward to try to get along with Pete Coleman."
Coleman said Wasatch County is forming a committee that will work with UDOT to devise the best road alternative from the Utah County line to Heber. Wasatch County is concerned that Heber City may be bypassed when a new road is constructed.