The Point’s planners seek public inputMar 22, 2021 04:05PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Phase one of The Point’s master planning process concluded in February. Phase two, focused on public input, begins in March. The Point’s planners seek input on three scenarios for the site that have been developed to see what resonates with the public. (Graphic courtesy The Point)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Three different concepts have been developed for The Point, the 600 acres at the Point of the Mountain where the prison currently resides, and The Point’s planners are seeking public input to help determine the best scenario for the site.
In December, the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was hired to develop a master plan. They immediately went to work and phase one of the master planning process concluded in February. That phase involved what The Point’s Executive Director Alan Matheson called “the nuts and bolts, behind the scenes work that’s critical to lay the foundation for the next planning steps,” including identifying “the opportunities and constraints at the site.” Matheson said a great deal of information was gathered such as what services already exist in the area, the master plans of the surrounding communities, gaps that need to be filled, and an analysis on what the market is for different kinds of uses.
“We now have the foundation to start on what is a critical phase, developing concepts for what can happen at the site. We’ve gathered an enormous amount of ideas from the public, but now we need to translate them into concepts,” Matheson said.
The three concepts that will be presented to the public for further review are:
- A complete community – This concept involves a self-sufficient community with destinations in the site itself so that people don’t need to drive long distances to access jobs and housing, thus generating the least traffic off the site.
- A regional hub –This concept offers a place where people can gather to enjoy amenities that aren’t found elsewhere in the region such as entertainment and concert venues, restaurants, big parks, and parks designated for sports.
- Economic core – The focus of this concept is job creation and economic development including world-class careers, education and health care.
Matheson said that each of the scenarios offers opportunities to live, work and play. All of the concepts will have elements of innovation, open space, trails and places for people to live, but each scenario offers a different emphasis.
“This is an important project. We can’t leave it to gut feeling. We have to base the development on rigorous analysis. The planners are taking some of the ideas that came out of the (previous) public process and are testing those ideas. A lot of us have preferences for the site but may not understand how those preferences will play out in the real world, so we’re going to analyze each of these concepts using sophisticated modeling and metrics,” Matheson said. They’ll look into how much it would cost to build the different scenarios, what the water usage and job creation would be for each scenario, and how air quality and traffic would be affected, among other important considerations.
“This phase two is really a critical time for public input. We want to understand which elements of the concepts really resonate with the public, which are most consistent with their values,” Matheson said.
The Point’s personnel are hosting open houses and conducting surveys beginning in March. The open houses will be available to anyone in the public and will likely be a combination of in-person and virtual. The public surveys will be conducted scientifically by a firm hired to call people randomly. “We want to make sure we’re getting a representative sample of inputs, not just the people who have reached out to The Point. Since it’s scientifically done, we’re able to compare input from those who are participating in open houses and public forums with the general population,” he said. The pre-determined stakeholder advisory committee and The Point of the Mountain State Land authority will continue to hold regular meetings, all of which will be livestreamed on The Point’s social media accounts so that the public can listen to their meetings. All information about dates and times of meetings and opportunities for public input can be found at thepointutah.org/master-plan.
“We’re trying to figure out what elements of each concept people prefer. From there, we’ll take that mix of concepts that works best and form a preferred alternative, a single plan that takes in the best elements of those concepts from phase two. Then we’ll refine that to make changes for it to perform better such as less air pollution, less traffic and more economic gain. That process will go out to the public again for input on the final plan. Each of these stages builds on the one before,” Matheson said.
Phase three will take place in April and early May, developing a preferred alternative to include the best concepts and ideas from phase two. Phase four from May into early June will be about refining the preferred alternative to make sure it works as well as possible. Phase five will be the development of final documents, plans and supporting materials and will likely wrap up this summer.
“A lot will depend on feedback,” Matheson said, “and if more time is required to get it right.”