Enough focus on the big picture.
Salt Lake residents have asked a commission for more attention to the smaller picture: neighborhoods, places close enough to walk and bike, safe streets and closer-knit communities.A report issued Thursday by the Salt Lake City Futures Commission outlined a vision for Utah's flagship metropolitan area, and the thoughts of thousands of Salt Lake residents who contributed to the two-year study are included in the report's 100 pages.
Former Mayor Ted Wilson headed up the commission.
Residents want to embrace diversity. They want to be connected to government and to decision-making. They want to use cultural growth primarily to build communities.
They want bikes and pedestrians to be considered before cars and even buses and other forms of mass transit. They want local stores. They want the West Downtown Gateway project to serve as a model for innovative urban design.
They want natural areas protected from encroachment by subdivisions and new buildings. They want to recycle. They want officials to encourage small business and entrepreneurship.
About a thousand residents attended public hearings sponsored by the commission. Others e-mailed their comments. Some called and others wrote letters with their visions, concerns and suggestions about the way Salt Lake City should progress.
"They recognize the need to look at the big picture, but they perceive the smaller picture - the neighborhood - has been ignored," said John Bennett, staff director for the Futures Commission.
Every component of the community was culled for input: religious communities, individual citizens, community councils, business communities, chambers of commerce, school districts, colleges and universities.
"There is clearly a concern about the way transportation is happening," Bennett said. Residents perceive that the reconstruction of I-15 is having a major impact on neighborhoods.
So the report asks city officials to mitigate negative impacts of the project, to develop a transportation system that encourages alternatives to cars, to design pedestrian-friendly roads and to buy more buses and revise schedules to accommodate weekend and evening travel.
They want more intimate neighborhoods like those in the Avenues and the "ninth and ninth" area near the Tower Theater.
"Those areas where people sit on the front porch, or walk down the street and talk to their neighbors . . . ," Bennett said. "Communities like we had in the 1940s, even the 1920s, are very attractive to people."
The report, presented to the public at the Sorenson Multi-Cultural Center on California Avenue, comes after two years of research.
In February 1996, Mayor Deedee Corradini and the City Council created the 75-member commission to study the future of Salt Lake. Later, they added 25 more members to ensure local arts and culture were adequately represented.
The commission is divided into six subcommittees: arts and culture; the "built environment" such as buildings and infrastructure; the natural environment, which considers what it's like to live and interact with people in the city; economics; transportation and neighborhoods.
Information from a seventh category - the impact of the 2002 Winter Olympics - will be released later, Bennett said.
The commission had two goals: to create a vision for the city and to recommend how the vision would be implemented.
"We've looked at every aspect of Salt Lake that we can," Bennett said. "There are some things that are truly Salt Lake issues and some things that are more regional, like air quality, where we can't have the kind of impact we want unless we work with our neighbors."
The commission's report will be presented to the City Council, which will take it under consideration.