Mayor Stan Smith can be reached at 435-680-3224 or by email at email@example.com.
The holiday season is upon us and it is delightful to see the Town lit up and decorated. The Joy to the World committee has worked hard to provide an entertaining time during December. I hope all will come and support the activities. Many thanks go out to the committee. They, like so many others, volunteer their time and efforts to make Springdale the special place that it is. Giving is an important part of making a community. We try and recognize those who give but some do it quietly and without the recognition. It takes all of us participating to make the Town what it is. This Christmas season I hope we will all take a moment to reflect on what we are doing to make our community better.
In doing that, we also need to realize there are many differing voices in Town and we need to show more compassion and understanding when dealing with our neighbors. Springdale is a great place to live and work. As I work with others around the county and state they continually tell me of how much they love coming to Springdale and wish they could live here. It is the people that make this Town so great. May we continue to show kindness and patience to one another. My wish for everyone this season is health and joy for all who work and live in this wonderful Town.
A major part of what makes the town of Springdale such a special place is the people who live here. Springdale residents are a diverse group coming from wide ranging backgrounds and with divergent opinions, perspectives and life experiences. This diversity adds richness to the community. This diversity is possible because, in the past, there has been a corresponding diversity in housing types and affordability allowing people from many walks of life and economic backgrounds the ability to live in town.
Over the past decade housing in Springdale has become much more expensive. It is now difficult for the people who work in the hotels, restaurants, and shops to be able to live in town. Young families have a hard time finding housing that fits both their budget and the needs of their kids. More and more the town is becoming less and less diverse in age and income due to the increased cost of housing. This threatens the rich diversity the town has historically enjoyed.
The Planning Commission is currently working on the Housing chapter of the general plan. They are talking about concepts of accessory dwelling units (small mother-in-law apartments or guesthouses rented on a long term basis) and cottage neighborhoods (small homes clustered together in a common development) as a means to provide more diversity in the type and cost of housing. They are looking for other ideas to address the Town’s housing needs.
These are important discussions that will impact the nature and character of the community in the future. I encourage you to be a part of the discussion. Let the Commission know how you feel about housing in the town and if housing affordability is an issue you care about.
On a semi-related note, this month’s Mayor’s Brown Bag lunch will focus on open space within the Town of Springdale. The Council is interested in hearing from our community regarding open space. How much do we need? What should we use it for? How should we get it? How do we pay for it?
I look forward to talking to you about this issue. Remember to bring your lunch! See you on Monday, November 16 at noon in the Town Council room (moved indoors on account of cooler temps).
This past month has given me cause to reflect on what community really means. The recent floods and the loss of lives brought several communities into one large borderless community. I was able to attend the memorial service held in Maxwell Park over in Hildale, the same place where the devastating floods took place. The expression of gratitude for the hundreds who pitched in to help was abounding. The mayor of Hildale, Mayor Barlow, said the words “Thank you” were not adequate to express the feelings and emotions in Hildale. I know many here fixed food that was sent over to help feed those that were involved.
Here in Zion many people dropped what they were doing to help the Park search for the hikers. Each group did what they could to help. Food, rooms and comfort were extended to the families of the victims. In both situations, it didn’t matter if people knew the ones they were helping or not. If there was a need people were there to fill that need. That is what a community does – help others in time of need.
We were still addressing the last problem when the rock slide closed off traffic through the Park. Once again many people jumped in to make sure the road reopened as soon as possible. Many extra hours were spent trying to solve the problem.
The music festival was held at the end of September. It was a chance for the community to join together, spend time, and enjoy a wonderful event. Again, many people dedicated their talents and resources to make it happen. The music festival was very successful. The success is the community coming together and enjoying each other.
Last month I held the first “Brown Bag” lunch. It was good to meet with several towns people and discuss the concerns they had. I thank Supt. Bradybaugh for attending and taking questions. This month I want to invite you all to another “Brown Bag” lunch to be held at the gazebo October 19th at noon. It will be another opportunity for us to come out and connect as community.
“There are just too many people.”
“The streets are crowded and everyone is overworked.”
“I can’t even get onto the street it is so busy.”
These are just some of the things that are being said. We are working on solutions though nothing is going to happen quickly. A couple of months ago we attended a meeting in Richfield where the parks, town leaders, state leaders, congressional aides, state office of tourism, local tourism and others attended. All the parks in Utah are experiencing the same concern with growth. It was a good experience to share concerns and ideas. This past month we again spent 3 days with a different group discussing the local issues of Zion National Park. The Zion Park staff, local and county government, state and local tourism offices, congressional aides as well as the National Park Service from Denver and Washington DC were in attendance. We discussed what to do with the increase in visitation and the local problems arising from the increase in visitation. The visitor count for 2014 was 3.2 million and if the current trend continues we are slated to end up with 3.8 million visitors this year.
Many questions were raised during these meetings with everyone looking for the answers. One thing is for sure, the government moves slowly and while no solutions came out of the meetings, those in attendance came away committed to find the answers to the problems that we are facing.
While we as a town can’t make changes for the Park, we can work on things under the town’s responsibilities. We are currently working on parking, street lighting and other issues that are affecting the town and its residents.
In trying to help the residents know what is going on, I am trying something new. On Monday, September 14th at noon at the town gazebo, I will be hosting a brown bag lunch. I invite you all to come with (or without) your lunch and join me as I take your questions and let you express your concerns. It will be informal and hopefully worth your time.
This month I have invited Rick and Supt. Bradybaugh to join me in taking your questions. This will be your chance to ask us questions and spend your lunch time sharing ideas and concerns. If this is well received I am considering doing it on a regular basis. I understand it won’t be the most convenient time for everyone but it is a place to begin. I hope you will mark it on your calendar and plan on attending.
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.