They aren't whining. They wanted the Olympic cross-country and biathlon course built here. But local leaders also want their fair share of financial support.
"We want to make sure the 12,000 residents of Wasatch County don't have to carry a disproportionate share of the Olympic load," said Robyn Pearson, the executive director of Project 2000 for the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce.Pearson and other local leaders attended a meeting of the Legislature's Sports Advisory Committee Tuesday at the state park, site for the skiing and shooting events.
Much of the meeting focused on plans that the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation has for turning the site, known as Soldier Hollow, into a year-round recreational area.
There was, however, some concern raised at the meeting about how the small communities and county will cover the cost associated with getting ready to host tens of thousands of Olympic visitors.
Wasatch County Sheriff Mike Spanos described for the committee some of the problems local law enforcement will face during the Games. He cited a stretch of U-40 that narrows from a divided four-lane highway into a two-way road.
The narrow road, just outside of Heber City, is "a living death trap," the sheriff said. A project to widen the road was dropped by the state recently. "It's a grave concern for us."
Sen. Alarik Myrin, R-Altamont, suggested the state keep a closer eye on what the Olympics mean for local governments. "I'm not sure we're getting the full picture on local impacts," said Myrin, the committee co-chairman.
Pearson, who spoke to the Deseret News after the meeting, said local leaders are worried there might not be enough money available to help offset the impacts because the venue was chosen only recently.
"We figure we're at least two or three years behind, from a planning standpoint. A lot of the dollars and negotiations had been completed before we were named a venue," Pearson said.
"There's just so many dollars. If those dollars have been committed somewhere else, the (budget) might be balanced with the thought in mind this venue might not be everything we hope it will be," he said.
A deal is being finalized with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee that would give local entities about $1.3 million toward the cost of providing water and sewer services during the Games.
That's nowhere near the actual price tag, Pearson said. It'll cost $1 million alone just to replace the leaking water tank that now serves the nearby town of Charleston.
The money that SLOC is paying is based on the amount it would cost to set up temporary services on the site. Local service districts plan to extend permanent sewer and water lines to the site.
Organizers now plan to spend some $17 million preparing the site for Olympic competition, including bringing in some temporary facilities. Some 500 athletes are expected to compete there.
The state, however, is looking at the long-term development of the site for summer as well as winter use. Currently all that's there is the Chalet, a building rented for group activities.
Pearson said the county would like a share of the $40 million endowment that the organizing committee has from Olympic revenues. That money is part of a contract that allows SLOC to buy the Utah Winter Sports Park.
The state-owned sports park near Park City is home to the Olympic bobsled and luge track and ski jumps. The organizing committee is set to take ownership next year and will pay back the taxpayers' $59 million investment.
The endowment will be administered by a foundation that's already been set up to assume control of the sports park after the Games are over and the organizing committee disbands.
Despite his concerns, Pearson said the area is excited about the project. "It's not to be whiners. That's not our point," he said. "We're not groaning and moaning. We went after this venue."