By Jay Hamburger (Park Record)- A group of Park City officials is scheduled to visit Moab on Thursday and Friday to learn about the Southern Utah community’s efforts to advance social equity, an outing that is scheduled as the Marsac Building itself is readying to hold detailed discussions about the broad issue.
Mayor Andy Beerman and at least three members of the Park City Council are included in the list of travelers. Seven City Hall staffers led by City Manager Diane Foster are also scheduled to attend. The staffers represent a range of departments, including officials who work in budgeting, recreation, community development, economic development and public safety.
Figures from Park City-area not-for-profit organizations with assistance programs, such as the Peace House and the Christian Center of Park City, are also scheduled to attend. The not-for-profits are expected to be heavily involved in City Hall’s discussions about social equity.
Park City leaders in recent months have stressed the ideal of social equity, but it remains unclear what sort of policies or programs City Hall could eventually pursue. The leaders say advancing social equity is an important step in a place where certain segments of the community have not enjoyed the same level of economic success as the Park City economy has greatly expanded since the depths of the recession.
It seems Park City’s social equity efforts could include issues important to Latinos, senior citizens and other interest groups. Officials could address housing and wages, as examples.
The itinerary on Thursday includes a tour of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, a self-guided tour of facilities like a free health clinic, an arts and recreation center and the public library as well as a dinner with Moab officials.
The Friday schedule includes a roundtable discussion focused on social equity. Elected officials from Moab and high-ranking officials from the municipal government there are scheduled to participate. An elementary school principal from Moab is also expected to talk at the roundtable discussion.
In an interview, Rhiana Medina, the executive director of the Moab Valley Multicultural Center, said the organization serves approximately 3,000 people per year, mostly from Moab and surrounding Grand County.
The center offers a “healthy mix of intervention and prevention programs,” she said, describing walk-in crisis intervention as one. Medina said the programs are especially important since Moab is located far from big cities with more resources.
“If it’s not available here, it’s two hours away, at the closest,” she said.
Park City has long seen similarities between itself and Moab. Both are heavily reliant on the tourism industry, creating issues like growth, traffic increases and impacts on environmentally sensitive lands. Moab has for years been a base for people visiting the national parks of Southern Utah and others who enjoy the red rock landscape. Both of the communities have also drawn residents from outside of the state, leading to politics that are generally left of mainstream Utah.
Park City officials have traveled to other communities on informational trips for years, arguing that policies and programs that are successful elsewhere could be adopted locally. The annual City Tour is an example of that sort of official travel.