Friday, June 30, 2006

Now That's a Plan!

Salt Lake County is currently working on a plan for the "west bench" -- the west side of the Salt Lake Valley and the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains. It is essentially the area owned by Kennecott Land.

What a plan! It anticipates the eventual homes and communities for over 500,000 people. There isn't a city in this state that I think is planning for that number of people. The only plan comparable to that number that I can think of in Utah were some of the earlier Salt Lake County plans that were developed in the 1960s and 70s, but in those instances they were more regional in nature, as the area was covered by several municipalities that all had their own plans for the portion that would be in their communities.

Is it even practical to plan for such a large area and number? The plan covers all sorts of things, ranging from community centers to schools to recreation areas. We are constantly reminded of Daniel Burnham's call in the late 1800s to "make no small plans," but can plans on such a scale really have any meaning and efficacy? The guest opinion piece in this month's Planning magazine by a planning professor at the University of Illinois (I can't link to it yet -- it won't be available on the web until next month) suggests that lots of "smaller" plans work better than one large one, and there is some validity in that view, in my mind.

The one difference with the grand West Bench plan is that virtually all of the land is held by one owner who is planning it as well, and has started development. This may make it more likely that the "vision" of a grand plan can be acheived. But even then, it will take many years for an areas of this size to build out, and in all likelihood the plan will change several times before then as conditions change and new ideas come about.

Still, it's got to be one heck of a ride for the Salt Lake County planners and residents who are working on it. Good luck, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the process.

11 Comments:

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Student-Builder said...

I have heard many who are concerned that Kennecott has not considered the impact to the Valley's infrastructure and are too focused on potential revenue.

Items such as the valley's air shed, water supply, and power generation will not meet the new demands.

Can anyone confirm this?

 
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