Heber Valley Corridor Public Comment Period Closes Wednesday

The comment period for the Heber Valley Corridor project closes Wednesday, residents are invited to offer their thoughts to UDOT and local officials about the proposed route.

Listen to the original story at KPCW.org.

The Heber Valley Corridor project sent out a reminder last week ahead of the closure of the extended comment period. The message mentioned some key topics identified in the early parts of the comment period. The number one issue mentioned by the study was the impacts of the route on neighboring homes. Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter says she’s heard the same complaint loud and clear.

“The area right now that I’m seeing is the area on the south end. There’s been a lot of people in the area that are concerned, so we’re kind of collecting all the comments. Then we’re going to start focusing on compiling those and addressing them.”

Another issue identified so far is the potential consequences of realigning U.S. 189, including impacts on the airport and sewer farm. Mayor Potter explains the planning study and comment periods are precursors to the environmental study which will ultimately set the parkway’s route.

“So what we’re trying to do know is say first is it necessary? So they did the numbers to say OK what are the numbers on your Main Street what’s going to happen if we don’t do this? Then, what happens with this route versus that route? So, it’s not set in stone but we’re moving forward to try and get an environmental study and continue to look at the different alternatives and see what would be optimal.”

With the rapid growth and pressing need of an alternate travel corridor Heber City and Wasatch County have been acquiring land along the route to try and accelerate the creation of the parkway.

“For many years we’ve been getting a $10 corridor preservation fund when people do their vehicle registration. So, some of the land has already been purchased. Some of it is anticipated to be donated when certain areas are developed. There’s an area right now that’s applied for annexation and they’re totally willing to donate what needs to be developed if and when they annex to Heber. So, it’s kind of different depending on the area. Right now what we’re told is if 40 moves to this bypass and this becomes the state road then all of that would be purchased as part of that process, whatever hasn’t been purchased would be purchased. One of the reasons we’re trying to purchase it is to expedite the process and have the state look at it and say ‘Oh yeah they’ve already got most of the land.’ Makes it easier and less expensive to get this road put in.”

Some residents opposed to the creation of the parkway have proposed keeping Main Street the primary thoroughfare and designating another part of town to be a downtown-walkable area.

“It’s certainly something we can consider. The reason that hasn’t been discussed much is because all of the pushback—I was on the council for a term and I’ve been Mayor for a year and it’s always been a top priority of council. It’s always been a campaign issue, everyone wants to improve the Main Street. There is data that shows that when you create a Main Street somewhere else it’s not nearly as profitable and as successful at least studies that have been done in the country. So, it hasn’t gotten a lot of traction I know the people who will be impacted would prefer that but we have to look at the big picture and see what is best for everyone.”

Links to the proposed route can be found here.

Residents can provide their comments through March 20th to [email protected]

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.