It may have looked like fun and games as the more than 100 participants in the Envision Utah workshop exercise colored with markers and glued stars and squares on topographical maps.
But the work being done in the Provo Marriott Wednesday was serious stuff.Planners, government officials and business leaders attending the workshop sponsored by the Coalition for Utah's Future were quickly caught up in the game of trying to blend in more than 600,000 people into Utah County by the year 2050.
And not only did they have to find room for all the additional residents, but they had to decide if the water would be sufficient to sustain the growth and if the growth could occur without robbing the area of too much pristine farmland and without causing disastrous rises in pollution levels and traffic congestion.
Some of the groups decided growth should mostly occur on the west side of Utah Lake, but only half of those involved agreed that a causeway should then be built across the lake to Orem and Provo.
Some put new growth out into the desert land west of Lehi, but others worried about the lack of water.
Some suggested Utah Lake be treasured and turned into a resource that is attractive and a boost to community recreation.
Others said the south end of the lake could be dammed off and the Provo Harbor filled for development.
No one wanted to see a lot of density or loss of open space.
The only thing everybody seemed to really agree upon was that growth is inevitable and so changes are coming. It was also generally acknowledged that much of the growth in the state will come from the local birthrate and not necessarily from outside.
To accommodate 200,000 new residents by the year 2020, every city along the Wasatch Front corridor would have to accept about 16,000 additional people. To accommodate 432,000 by 2050, the same communities would have to adjust their zoning to accept almost twice that amount.
Some areas will have to be redeveloped, older areas perhaps cleared out to make way for multiple housing or new commercial industry.
Perhaps some communities will have to approve high-rise projects.
Maybe Provo and Orem should consider becoming one very large city and consolidate resources as well as costs, suggested Rep. Jordan Tanner, R-Provo.
Gov. Mike Leavitt's Legacy Highway would greatly open up opportunities for development along the western lakeside, it was noted.
"No decision is without consequence," explained one facilitator to his group.
The best thing about the evening, said Norm Nielsen, participating from Orem, lies in opening up the awareness in people as to what's in Utah County's future.
"This helps you see the realities," he said.
Organizers explained that data from such workshops will be used to create three potential alternatives for long-range planning in the state, based on the input from a great number of people.