Mayor Stan Smith can be reached at 435-680-3224 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would like to once again thank Kurt Wright for the service he has provided to this community over the past 15 years. He has left his mark on the community that will last. His retirement became official August 1 and we will be presenting him a plaque in the August town council meeting. When you see Kurt make sure you let him know how you feel about the device he has provided.
Garen Brecke has stepped into the big shoes left by Chief Wright. Chief Brecke will add his own style to our police department. There is a lot to do for such a small town and the police go about their job quietly and efficiently. Although Garen has been part of the department we welcome him in his new position as chief.
Dear Springdale residents, friends, and community members,
The Town Council has made the very difficult decision to settle litigation with Izzy Poco concerning the formula restaurant ordinance, which litigation has spanned five years. This decision has been extremely challenging for the Council on many levels, requiring nearly two years of regular evaluations and deliberations. However, after weighing all factors the Council unanimously feels the settlement is the best among a number of undesirable and disappointing options facing the Town.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of litigation, much of the Council’s deliberation on this issue has necessarily occurred during closed sessions of many properly noticed public meetings. Thus, the Council is unable to disclose all of the factors, issues, and considerations that influenced its decision. The Council understands this is frustrating and aggravating for the community. It is similarly frustrating for the Council to not be able to disclose these details.
One of the many issues central to the Council’s decision centers on insurance coverage. The Council has disclosed that the Town’s insurance carrier, the Utah Local Governments Trust (ULGT), informed the Town that it would not renew the Town’s insurance policy when it came up for renewal on July 1, 2015 if the Town persisted with the formula restaurant ordinance in place. While the Council cannot disclose specifics regarding insurance coverage or discussions with ULGT, we can provide general information to help community members understand the gravity of the insurance predicament facing the Town.
Utah law requires all municipalities to have insurance and sets minimum coverage amounts for this required insurance based on the size of the municipality. The largest municipalities in Utah may self-insure; and the rest are required to obtain insurance from a third party provider. Without insurance the Town’s financial resources (and accordingly its ability to provide services to the community) are put in jeopardy.
Many community members have suggested simply finding a new insurance company if ULGT cancels the Town’s insurance. The Town Council has investigated this possibility with the following findings.
1 - ULGT is by far the largest insurer of municipalities in Utah with more than 550 government agencies being insured. ULGT is solely dedicated to serving local governments, and therefore understands the unique insurance situations facing municipalities. It provides the best rates and the most comprehensive coverage for government agencies. It offers the widest array of risk management services to assist local governments. There is no other equivalent, or even semi-equivalent, option for insurance coverage available to local governments in Utah.
2 - The Utah Risk Management Mutual Association (URMMA) is the only other risk management option besides ULGT specifically serving local governments in Utah. It serves a much smaller group of client jurisdictions (19). URMMA is not traditional insurance—it is risk management assistance. Rather than providing insurance payments to its members to cover claims, it provides a five-year no interest loan on claim payouts. Thus, any claims the Town might incur would need to be paid back to URMMA over five years, in addition to the payment of the annual premium. The Council feels this option provides decidedly inferior protection to the Town.
3 - There are private insurance companies that will provide coverage to local governments. However, these companies treat local governments the same as any other client and offer the least attractive combination of rates and coverage. These companies are not able to respond to the unique insurance and risk management needs of local governments. Rather than vigorously defend the Town in litigation and payment of claims (as ULGT does), these companies most often look for reasons to deny coverage on a claim.
4 - In making application to any potential new insurance provider (either to URMMA or a private insurer) the Town would need to disclose any threatened or pending litigation. It would also need to disclose any known issues with Town ordinances that could result in litigation. Thus, the Town would need to disclose both the litigation with Izzy Poco and the potential for future challenges to the formula restaurant ordinance. Given these disclosures, the insurance carrier would refuse to insure the Town altogether or treat any claims arising from these disclosures as coverage exclusions under the insurance policy. In either case, the Town would be exposed to the full financial liability of future challenges to the formula restaurant ordinance.
Given all of these findings, the Council has determined the most fiscally responsible decision is to settle the lawsuit, repeal the ordinance, and retain insurance coverage with ULGT. Other options provide inferior protection of Town assets and would expose the Town to great financial risk in the face of future challenges to the formula restaurant ordinance.
As stated earlier, the issue of insurance coverage is not the only factor influencing the Council’s decision regarding the formula restaurant ordinance and lawsuit. But it is a major factor. The Council is providing this information to help community members more fully understand the insurance situation. The Council will be able to share other details regarding the decision making process after the Izzy Poco litigation is dismissed by the federal court in a few weeks. If there is community interest, the Council may consider scheduling a public meeting to discuss these factors in more detail.
More information regarding the issues and legal arguments surrounding the lawsuit can be found in legal briefs filed in the federal court litigation (see, e.g., Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider, filed March 30, 2015). Such documents are all public records.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these points and the trust you have placed in us as your elected community representatives.
Mayor Stan Smith, on behalf of the Springdale Town Council
It seems that this year the traffic is just horrible. I know that many of you have talked about the traffic and wonder what is being done about it. I am sure some are thinking nothing is being done because they cant see anything being done. Let me update you on the traffic in town and the park. There are constant conversations going on with the park, the county, the state and the congressional leaders in the state. Supt. Bradybaugh has a three day conference planned in August which I will be in attendance, as well as a meeting with the southern counties all dealing with trying to resolve the traffic issue. The town is involved in doing a transportation study in hopes with coming up with solutions. We have sent an application to the Utah Community Impact Board (CIB) and plan on making our presentation to them in August. The funding through CIB for the study is anticipated for October. A public hearing required as part of the process is on the agenda for the June town council meeting.
There is not a quick fix solution to the issue. All options are being discussed in the hopes of coming up with something that will work. No one claims to have the answers but working together with many resources a solution will be coming. The important thing to know is that we are working on a solution. Something is being done and the problem is not being ignored. As the process moves forward we will update you with the information and be looking for your input. Until then it is important that we all take a deeper breath and enjoy the beauty that is around us.
This month I have chosen to give an update on the water and sewer utilities for Springdale. Last year we were able to clean out the irrigation line that runs through the park. It was caked with sediment which reduced the size of the original pipe. We have noticed that the sand that seemed to be plugging lines has been reduced substantially. The culinary water supply has been stable. The treatment plant is working well and the staff has been able to keep up with even the high demands of the summer traffic. Rockville has periodically needed help with their water supply and we have even been able to accommodate their needs. In planning for the future of Springdale's needs I have asked the staff to start looking at what we would need for the water treatment plant. This evaluation has started and we are looking at both replacing the existing filtering system with new technology or just expanding and upgrading the existing system. There is not a hurry on this so we are taking our time and seeing which will be the best solution for our future needs. By planning early we can be ready when the need is pressing.
The sewer system gets inspected frequently. The engineers in their last report stated that the lagoons are working well and will meet the area's future needs without expanding them. The sewer is used by Springdale, Rockville and Zion National Park. Like many things maintenance is required to keep the system running well. In the next year we will be upgrading the system with additional equipment to make the lagoons more efficient. The sewer lines are getting old and are being replaced as needed. There are areas where sewer odor can be detected. The engineers report that in some areas there isn't enough sewage to keep things moving. Other areas have dips in them and as we identify them we are correcting them. We have installed manhole filters in problem areas to reduce the odor impacts. The maintenance of all the systems require constant care and our staff is doing a good job in keeping them working.
In summary the water and the sewer systems are not being overtaxed even with the busiest of days. We haven't had culinary water rationing in a very long time and do not see it happening except in catastrophic circumstances. The sewer system does put off a smell which we are trying to reduce as much as possible. The lagoons are working well and will be able to handle the load far into the future.
The street lighting project is well underway now. I want to thank all those who made it out to the public meeting this last month to give their input into this project. This is a very important step that the town is taking and a lot of work has gone into it and will continue to go into making it the best it can be. The input given at the meeting was taken and then given to the street light team to make the necessary adjustments to the project. Your voices were heard and I appreciate the effort that was given.
In the coming months additional opportunities will be available to help the project along. The height, location, quantity and light color are all being determined. Those along with how much we are willing to spend on the project will determine where we will be with the street lights by next year. The project will be from the design phase to the building phase this fall with the completion expected in March of 2016. When completed it is the Town’s desire to have it something we can all be proud of as well as for our safety and preserving our beautiful night skies.
Springdale has always been an interesting place. History gives different accounts to when the first white man entered the area. Most accounts show that it was 1858 when Nephi Johnson first came in contact with the canyon. The year 1862 is the date that everyone agrees that Springdale was settled. The fall of 1862 shows Albert Petty, his son George, James H Whitlock, William Black and his three sons, Joseph Millett, Alma Millett and Hyrum Morris all settled into Springdale. 1863 saw around 20 families as residents of Springdale. By the end of 1864 all but nine families had moved out of Springdale. Indian troubles occurred in 1866 and the entire town of Springdale was vacated. By 1875 enough people had returned to bring the town back to its original size.
Looking at Springdale in January of 2015 some say that the town is pretty well deserted. The very early years of Springdale were rough years to make a living and survive. Some say that it is still tough to make a living year round in Springdale. The town now claims a population of 550 people but we all know the numbers grow during the tourist season. Some of the same problems that the early settlers faced are still faced by those of us who live here today. The floods come and reshape the river and threaten buildings. Water is always a concern, whether it is drinking water or irrigation water, we hope that there will be enough to get us through another year, but not too much to destroy things.
Many of the first settlers in Springdale were farmers. They were not the only professions in the town in the early years. Springdale claimed John J Allred as its doctor. Samuel K. Gifford owned and operated the first chair shop. Squire Hepworth made sure there were plenty of shoes. Joseph Millett was a basket weaver. William Crawford was the one everyone went to, to get their wagons. John J. Ruesch made the caskets. Samuel K. Crawford took over for him. There were home builders, a store, a watch repairman to mention a few of the other occupations. They had to rely on each other to survive living in such a beautiful place.
Visiting Springdale now you will find a lot of shops, but instead of catering to basic needs they cater to the 3 million visitors to Zion National Park.
There are many similarities between the first settlers and those of us that claim Springdale as our home. Neighbors looked after each other back then and they still do that today. Though we might not have to depend on others to help us, that is what a community is all about, helping each other.
When I was younger, the tourist season in Springdale was very defined. We pretty much knew when the cars that meant the season was starting would come into the canyon. We also knew that not too long after Labor Day, the last cars would leave for home.
The tourism season is much different now. February, with the visitation impact of the Parade of Homes and President’s Weekend, reminds me that the season is not far behind. In a little more than a month, we will have the Zion Half Marathon, St. Patrick’s Day and the Spring Celebration and this year’s season will be well underway.
While we don’t really have a down time (people spend the winter fixing, remodeling and preparing for the next season) we have some moments to reflect on the past year and review what was good, what was not, and what we can do to make the next year just a little better. As we start what will undoubtedly be a very busy season, just let me say thank you for making the town a great place to live, a great place to visit, and the best town in Utah.
January brings a new year and a time for reflection. A lot has happened in 2014 and for the most part it was a good year for Springdale. We were able to get some new projects started.
As we look forward to 2015 some of these projects will be completed. The first phase of fiber optics will happen the first part of this new year. The street lighting project will take shape with the completion happening in the first part of 2016. The public transportation from St. George to Zion will see progress this year, though it will be several years of work to complete the project. This is also the year when the planning commission finishes the general plan update.
It takes everyone doing their part to make these projects (as well as other projects) successful. It is my wish that this year brings more success to Springdale and that we can work together to make it all happen.