I am honored to have been elected as your representative in District 2. I am eager to listen to and serve everyone in the district and to help our community thrive. There are many important issues facing the city, and I will be able to make the best decisions if I have maximum input from the citizens of our community. Please let me know if I can help in any way. In addition to this newsletter, I will occasionally post on my City Council Facebook page (George Handley Provo District 2) and on my website(https://www.georgehandleyprovo.com).
Here are a few important developments on the City Council that I know are of special interest. Please let me know your thoughts:
- The East Bay Golf Course and the proposed adjacent development by Wasatch Educational.
- I was happy to be a part of the discussion that helped to find common ground between the need to protect the golf course, the watershed, and the lake and to facilitate the further development of the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. I believe we have that common ground in the current agreement that was passed on January 9. At my urging, the City Council was able to retain the responsibility to review the final terms of the agreement so as to assure the public that it will meet their hopes and expectations. This is only intended as a measure to make sure that the final terms are indeed consistent with the agreement. We have no reason to expect that they will not be consistent. We are excited to welcome this new campus to Provo. I will be vigilant to be sure that the environmental health of the area is not unduly disrupted. If you have any further concerns, please let me know.
- Leadership assignments
- Gary Winterton will serve as Chair and Dave Harding as Vice-Chair of the Council. I am pleased that among my other responsibilities, I will be serving as Vice-Chair on the Housing and Zoning committees along with Dave Knecht as Chair. It is a priority to continue to assure fair and clear and enforceable zoning regulations as well as to provide adequate housing for all income levels and demographics in the city. I have long believed that we can't solve the parking and zoning problems with enforcement alone but with an aggressive, market-based solution to provide sufficient housing options for all citizens. I welcome your input and ideas and concerns.
- The "Welcome Home" Joint Resolution
- This was proposed as a joint resolution of the City Council and the Mayor to declare our commitment to civility but it ran into a snag last week. I have heard some skepticism about whether or not such a statement matters or whether or not it matches Provo's record. Let's be clear: this is aspirational. No one is claiming we are perfect. But we want to make sure we do all we can as a City to stem the tide of increased incivility in all of its forms. If we need to improve in our community, I welcome the conversation and want to hear from citizens about ways we can improve. Let's also acknowledge all of the positive things we see happening in this community. I am hopeful this joint resolution will still be passed shortly. If you aren't familiar with the proposed resolution, here it is:
- "Provo is recognized as a great place to live, work, learn, and play. The secret to our success is the people who call this city home. We take seriously our individual responsibility as well as our responsibility to our community. We come from a long tradition of taking care of ourselves and caring for others. The Mayor and City Council call on the people of Provo to continue this tradition regardless of what may be happening elsewhere. Let us resolve to always be warm and welcoming; to be kind and caring in our interactions; to strive to understand each other; to be civil in public discourse; to communicate in a manner that is mutually respectful; and to protect against the persecution or alienation of people because of differences -- real or perceived. To all people of goodwill, we say: 'Welcome Home.'"
- We continue to work on our priorities over the next two years and we are open to some "big ideas" that could really transform our community in positive ways. We remain focused, however, on many of the fundamental issues that pertain to our need for
- Responsible Government,
- a Healthy Environment,
- a Vibrant Community, and
- Thriving Commerce.
- At our January 23 work meeting, we heard a summary of the year-long study of the anticipated economic impact of the coming Bus Rapid Transit system. I was particularly interested in the findings about its anticipated impact on 9th East. There are a few salient points that were reassuring about its potential impact there.
- First, typically impact is felt within 200 yards of a stop but not any further.
- Even in areas where it is expected to have an economic impact in the city, the impact is not expected to be "transformative" but more modest.
- Because there is no dedicated lane on 9th East and because BYU owns one side and the other side is residential with a school, impact is anticipated as "minimal." Assuring minimal impact is certainly my own commitment in any case, but it is reassuring to see that there is not an anticipated impact in the study.
- The areas where it is more likely to have impact, which I sensed could be positive for effective use of BRT and better flow of traffic through the city, are areas near 2230 North and University, downtown, and on South University. I very much welcome your thoughts and concerns.
- I will remain vigilant about protecting the family neighborhoods in our district while also making sure that BRT works as well as it can for our city. I will be sure to share the full report when it is available.
- I hope we can all agree that a BRT full of empty busses would be a failure. Since it is coming, I intend to promote it, use it, and encourage others to use it. This should not be interpreted as my advocacy of any undesirable zoning changes or commercialization of our family neighborhoods. I only intend to make sure that it serves our community as it was designed to and that it gets cars off of the streets. For this reason, I welcome the news that BYU and UVU have both generously agreed to give free passes to all employees and families, thus greatly incentivizing its use into the future.
- There was a recent Wasatch neighborhood meeting regarding the proposal to increase the number of students currently served by the Montessori Preschool at 997 Briar. There were strong feelings on both sides of the issue, although I was glad to see that the discussion was handled so well by our neighborhood and its leaders. I will not be voting on this issue because the decision-making body in this case is Community Development, so I have decided not to take a position myself on this lest I appear to be trying to bypass the direct direct appeal process for our neighborhood. I encourage anyone who feels the need to voice their opinion on this matter to attend a hearing on February 7th at 5 pm in the Community Development office conference room. I heard valid concerns about the impact of an increase in students on the traffic and parking at that intersection as well as advocacy for having a local pre-school that neighbors can conveniently walk to. I believe it will be important for Community Development to hear all of these concerns to make the best decision. A permit, if issued, will increase the students from 6-12 and the employees from 1-3 for an already existing pre-school and is only conditional upon all neighbors' concerns being adequately addressed in perpetuity.
- Finally, Dave Harding of District 5 has issued a Clear the Air Challenge to District 2. I told him we were up to the challenge! Please go to https://travelwisetracker.com/s/provo-district-2 and sign up! We can do this!