Jewel Snow, a Salt Lake resident of 30 years, doesn't like to think abuot the phenomenal rate at which Utah's population is growing. The quality of life worsens with every additional person, she says.
"I would prefer it not to grow, but it's something that will happen, and we're going to have to deal with it," she said. The Salt Lake Valley has hardly any open space now, but imagine the amount of land that housing for an additional 3 million people will consume. Imagine the traffic on the roads with a few hundred thousand more drivers.
Snow and other Slat Lake-area residents participated in the planning process Tuesday afternoon during and Envision Utah meeting. Though only about 200 came, their imput could influence the way millions will be living 50 years from now.
State projectors say the Wasatch Front will have more than 3 million residents by 2020 and 5 million by 2050. High birthrates among Utah couples are fueling the population explosion. Only about one-third comes from in-migration.
Several at the meeting said Utah leaders are approaching population increases the wrong way.
"I would like to see little villages with a lot of open space for people to share," Snow said. "I'd like to walk to the stores and to the schools. I don't see the point in driving 20 miles to get to work."
Snow, 63, moved here in 1968 when her husband got a teaching job at the University of Utah. Back then, things were much more open, with orchards and fields all over the valley, she said.
Building massive freeway systems so people can commute to their jobs from the suburbs is not the way to go, she feels. Instead, more affordable housing should be available in the cities.
Freeways just encourage people to live farther out from the city. When people life in suburbs, they tend to build big houses with big yards. It's a waste of space, said Mike Polacek, who lives downtown.
Polacek, 36, makes the three-mile trip to work everyday on his bike, he said. He uses his car on the weekends for longer trips with his family. Polacek hopes developers begin build small houses close together, rather than big spread-out houses like those found in Sandy and other suburbs.
Most at the meeting agreed with him. The partcipants viewed slides, most of suburban and inner-city settings. They scored each image on a score sheet that they turned in after the presentation
Images of suburban homse with big garages scored low. Small houses in the Avenues with porches scored high.
Also, narrow rods with a lot of trees scored high. Wide roads scored low because they encourage people to drive fast, putting children in danger.
The group favored mass transit. Scenes of bus stops and bike lanes also acored high while images of traffic-packed freeways scored low.
Barbara Brown, an environmental psychologist at the University of Utah, conducted the meeting. The results will be given to a committee that makes recommendations to state planners, she said.
The crowd at Tuesday's meeting was different from the sample taken at the U., she said. The students there tended to favor the images of the suburbs instead of small inner-city houses.
The group that met Tuesday was more vocal and passionate than most, Brown added.
"This was nat a random sample," she said. "It was people who cared enough to come during a Jazz game."
Envision Utah is a campaign the Coalition for Utah's Future has implemented to gather input from citizens on Utah's future. It plans five similar meetings during the next few weeks across the Wasatch Front. Each meeting will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
- Wednesday. Ogden City Chambers, 2848 Washington Blvd., Suite 100.
- Thursday. Davis County Fairgroungs, Administration Building, 151 S. 1100 West, Farmington.
- Wednesday, May 20. Utah State Extension Center, 151 N. Main, Tooele.
- Thursday, May 21. Scera Theater Room 101, 745 S. State, Oregm.
The group can be contacted through it sWeb site (www.envisionutah.org) or calling 973-3307.