Kate's Bountiful Briefing 01-2020
Friends & Neighbors,
On January 14th, 2020 I was sworn in to begin my first four-year term on the City Council alongside Millie Bahr and Richard Higginson. The Oath of Office ends on a phrase I have always found to be particularly impactful. The last line says “… that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.” I took the same Oath of Office just over a year ago as a mid-term replacement to the City Council. When I was selected to fill the vacant seat, I wasn’t elected by the people of Bountiful, but by the members of the City Council. In my interview speech for the appointment process, I spoke of being a place holder if selected and of not having a mandate from the people to act or vote in any certain way but to use my best judgement. Remembering that the people had not had yet had an opportunity to vote for me and my vision for Bountiful and being mindful as to how I arrived in office was a guiding principle for me in those 14 months.
After running both Primary and General Election campaigns last year and sharing with you the issues and causes that are important to me and for Bountiful, I reviewed the words of the Oath of Office and thought of the many conversations I had with residents on porches, “meet the candidate” events, or via email and social media. We spoke of many issues from city communications, to housing, to parks and open space, to city spending as I shared my thoughts and heard your concerns and wishes for action. The pledge to act with faithfulness and loyalty to the residents of Bountiful rings with new meaning and purpose as I shed the caretaker role of a mid-term replacement and am able to act on an agenda supported by the residents of our city. I’m very much looking forward to the City Council retreat at the end of the month to begin the planning and preparations for 2020 in Bountiful. I can think of no greater work than to be in service to my hometown.
Now, what’s up around town? Below I have updates on:
The Changing of the Guard
Ride Along with Bountiful PD
Thanking City Employees
I hope you enjoy the information and thoughts below. You can reach me at 801-599-9017 or email me at KateforBountifulCity@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and allowing me to represent you.
Changing of the Guard
I want to offer my thank you and hat tip for his 12 years of service on the City Council to John Marc Knight. The swearing in of new Council Members signaled the end of shift for John Marc. As the “newbie” on the council, I appreciated that I could call or text John Marc to better understand the “why” and “how” behind various city actions or policies to help inform my vote. He could always be counted on to ‘tell it to you straight’. His Army background influenced his desire for efficient meetings and sometimes a well-placed swearword to get the emphasis just right on a key point. For the past few months, he’s struggled with health issues from a knee scope that turned into a really nasty staff infection. For an old Army guy, being laid up in bed when his vote was needed was an awful punishment indeed.
I count myself lucky that along with getting to know John Marc, the Knight Council Team included his wife Denise. She made it a point to include me and my husband Michael in the council-family from day one. She offered thoughtful advice when my campaign signs were stolen in the Primary and helped me pick the signs up when the campaign was over. There are lots of meetings and late nights involved in council service. Spouses pick up the slack on those days when we are called away to meetings. They attend events and dinners that aren’t always their first choice of activities to support their council member spouses and so a well-earned thank you goes to Denise as well as John Marc.
In appreciate for his years of service to Bountiful, we gave John Marc the standard plaque that I’m sure will look nice in his office somewhere. But more importantly, we also named the new Zamboni (or ice refinisher) for the new Bountiful Town Square ice ribbon after John Marc. For a hot rod guy, it seemed so much more fitting a thank you than a plaque!
Ride Along with Bountiful Police Department
Luckily in my life, I’ve never had occasion to take a ride in the backseat of a police car. Providing for public safety is a key responsibility of city government and a major component of our city budget to the tune of about $8.6 million. In order to make the best decisions about city government, it has been important to me to learn more about areas of city governance that I now represent. I have taken the time to learn more about the Power, Streets, and Parks Departments, but last Monday evening it was time to learn more about the Police Department.
I’ve long held our police chief, Tom Ross, in high regard. Due to my day-job, I’ve been able to observe him in action for years at the State Capitol in his capacity as President of the Police Chiefs Association addressing a myriad of state-wide public safety related bills during the legislative session from the opioid crisis, to body cameras, to use of force. In addition, I always appreciated that he found a win-win solution for the Bountiful Rotary burn-out contest to hold a legal burn out on a city street that was safe for the pubic to observe and raised funds for needy school kids.
I asked Chief Ross if he could help me see public safety from the standpoint of his officers and he arranged for me to do a ride-along with Officer Bret Schofield. I owe a thank you to Officer Schofield for letting me tag along for a few hours and for answering all of my questions about the stresses of the job, how all the technology and equipment worked, and sharing his thoughts generally about being an officer in Bountiful. I admit that many of my questions had roots in “NCIS” and other television police procedurals. My ride along happened to start shortly after a major car chase ended in Bountiful involving officers from Woods Cross, North Salt Lake, and Bountiful. You can read the story here. It was a great reminder that even in Bountiful, the job officers do is dangerous as I was able to see the damage done to some of the police cars and talk with officers involved in the chase and arrest.
Bountiful City Police Car, Photo Credit Bountiful PD Facebook
Police work is a delicate business. At all times officers represent the city, and their actions reflect on the city for good or bad. They are responding often at a very low moment in a person’s life, whether it is a traffic ticket or serious crime. Their ability to read a situation and respond appropriately is critical. As a person that has received (and deserved) a speeding ticket or two, I had sympathy for several of the cars we pulled over as I knew it would put a damper on the drivers evening. Although I can verify each car was speeding and not just a tiny bit over either! As I watched Officer Schofield and the other officers that responded on our calls, I appreciated the way they handled their interactions with our residents. In my ride along, we pulled a few cars over for speeding, responded to a potential home prowl, responded to a burglar alarm, investigated a hit and run car accident, turned in evidence related to the earlier car chase I noted above, addressed some potential mischief in a city park, took fingerprints for a person that needed them for a professional license renewal, offered counseling to a concerned parent, and generally cruised the city keeping an eye out. All that in just the space of a few hours.
As I headed home to bed riding an adrenaline high from the evening’s excitement, Officer Schofield still had several hours to go on his shift. Crime-wise we may not be “Mayberry”, so it was reassuring to know Officer Schofield and his colleagues are keeping an eye on things and that the training and leadership from Chief Ross is reflected in his officers. The experience helps round out my views and understanding of this important area of city policy and will make my decisions better for being more informed.
What’s Up with Washington Elementary
What’s up with Washington Elementary? This question came up a lot on the campaign trail and after it was announced that the Davis School District had offered the city the right of first refusal to buy the surplused school. As most are aware, the school district concluded that shifting student demographics meant that Washington Elementary was no longer needed and the district would consolidate the six elementary schools in Bountiful to five schools. Much of the timeline on next steps is within the hands of the school district rather than the city at this point. We do know that the school district is doing some remediation on the building followed by plans to tear the school down. The best guess on a timeline for the tear down is late winter to spring 2020.
As far as my personal views go on next steps, I am very happy the school district offered the city the option to purchase the property first. If the property were sold to the highest bidder on an open market it would likely become high density housing. While housing density and new housing needs have a place, I think it would be particularly hard for this mostly single-family home neighborhood to see a community asset like a school change so drastically to a different type of property use. There were two messages I heard continually from Bountiful residents on the campaign trail. The first was a concern about housing density and the erosion of single-family home neighborhoods. The second was a request for more parks and open space.
It is my personal opinion that, if the city is able to exercise the right of first refusal to purchase the school property, the best use would be for a city park. It would be compatible with the community asset nature of the property currently that the neighborhood is used to as a school and would help with the chronic need for field space and sport-court space we hear from residents. Ours is a built-out city. There aren’t easily obtained spaces for parks and when an opportunity presents itself for park or open space, I think we should seize on it. Let’s all get outside more!
At the annual Utah League of Cities and Towns conference last fall, I attended a session on parks and park planning. There were stats for each Utah city comparing our individual park and open space levels to standard levels. Our current park and open space acreage stands at 399.5 acres. The standard acreage recommended for our current population level is 605.1 acres. This deficit of park and open spaces shows up in frustrations over field space reservations, in requests for additional sport-court facilities, in busy trails, and in crowded parks on summer days.
Many different park user communities have reached out to me about the options for Washington Elementary and my suggestion to each is the same. Please stay engaged on this issue as we await the final steps from the schoo