This week, I wrote my councilmembers to thank them for their courageous vote to create Olympia, a high-density development at the south end of the Salt Lake Valley.
It is not easy to face the slings and arrows of an angry public, but there is no doubt that townhomes and apartments are the right way to handle the valley’s exploding population. Cities, school districts, and the state legislature must take the same bold approach and invest in infrastructure, classrooms and transportation.
I sympathize with the residents in the area. We put down roots in a place because of the character of the community, and these developments change that character dramatically. I lived for years in the Heber Valley and have firsthand experience watching homes climb up the sides of pristine hills and horse farms become office parks.
However, Utah’s booming economy does not leave room for a middle ground — a community either grows or it fails.
Facing that growth with foresight and wisdom is the challenge we give to our elected officials, and the wisdom is clear: High-density housing controls traffic by encouraging nearby mixed-use projects that reduce miles driven, attracting the large, established companies that create desirable, sustainable jobs, and improving the tax income that give us the resources to create the schools, infrastructure, and public transportation the Salt Lake Valley desperately needs.
Elected officials have a responsibility to the will of their constituents, but they also have an equally high responsibility to shepherd their communities and provide for long-term, sustainable growth and self-reliance. This provision is unpopular now, but if local governments, school districts and the Utah Legislature display similar courage and foresight, in time the Olympia development will be a glittering community hub and source of great pride for the southwest Salt Lake Valley.
Joseph Silverzweig, Murray