Around January 11th, 2020, many of us in Highland began receiving the flyer below. This is just more sensationalism . It asked residents of Highland to please not sign the referendum. Most residents will wonder, “What referendum?” We thank you for calling to attention this issue, and helping us make Highland aware of this issue.
We actually think this flyer helps our cause. It was free advertising for the cause of saving Highland’s Trails! We feel most in Highland actually want trails (survey). Each of the answers to the questions posed in the opposition flyer are easily refuted/debunked. Please see below.
- Their mailer lets people know that a referendum on removing trails is out there. That is a good. We want people to know! We feel its good that MORE know how silly this is to try to remove used trails (trails are used). We believe Highlanders generally love trails and open space so we are appreciative that they went to this extent, to make the public even that more aware.
- We feel that the city council’s decision was reckless and causes material harm. These trails add property value.
- Each of the answers to the questions are easily debunked. See below
The map below shows all trails in the area. The yellow ones are those that the council agreed to sell. Note the proximity to Freedom Elementary, Wimbleton Park, Mitchell Hollow Park, and the Murdock Trail.
Utah Law states that it is necessary to show JUST CAUSE to vacate an existing trail or road. It is also necessary to prove that it would do NO MATERIAL HARM to other residents. Neither of these requirements was met by the council prior to their vote. See here where Councilman Ostler actually brings up these points, yet the majority of the council ignored his comments about public interest, materially harm when they voted 3/2 to dispose. https://youtu.be/eq7M7R7TpiY?t=16850 (time 4:40:50)).
Councilman Ostler brings up other questionable behavior, where the petitioners changed the petition after the signators, signed the petition. Correct, what they signed was different than what was presented to the council meeting. It is real, listen here… Listen to the originator of the petition here state publicly that what was signed, is NOT what was presented https://youtu.be/eq7M7R7TpiY?t=16762 (time 4:39:22 – listen for about 10-15 seconds)
It is correct to say that it was legal for a council member who stood to gain personally from the decision to vote. However, many residents find that decision to be unethical. It is incorrect to say there were no conflicts of interest; there was and it was declared in multiple meetings by the council member. It is legal according to state code for a council member to vote if a conflict is declared. One councilman owns an adjacent property in the subdivision and will financially get gain from this law. This councilman publicly, and openly declared in the meeting that he had a personal interest, yet he decided to NOT recuse himself, and he still voted. (https://youtu.be/eq7M7R7TpiY?t=7866), We are pretty sure that anyone reading this can judge for him/herself whether or not that sounds appropriate.
PLEASE SEE THE YOUTUBE VIDEO. By not recusing himself, we feel that it is also a loss of public trust of an elected official. A city representative used his influence as an elected city official to seek personal financial gain.
Over 26% of Highland City trails are eligible for removal by the same process used to remove the Wimbleton trails. Highland City has never removed a trail that is actively used. This would be the first and would represent 6% of the Highland City trails.
Sensationalism . The proposed price formula was never agreed upon by the council in any public meeting. Additionally, the city recently sold open space property to Lehi for over $6.00 per sq. ft. (over 2.5x the proposed sale price and is purchasing ground from the state for the east-west connector at 2x the proposed price. Some of the ground being purchased falls in the category of unbuildable “Open Space.” Also, the proposed sales price is 20% less than an appraisal that was performed over one year ago on the property. See Councilman Ostlers comments at the meeting on Fair Market Value, https://youtu.be/eq7M7R7TpiY?t=16867 (4:41:07 time)
True. Sensationalism. Money generated from the sale of trails and open space would be used to improve existing parks and trails. If the objective was to raise money by selling city assets then wouldn’t it be better to look at unused assets rather than well used trails? And shouldn’t we be more concerned about getting fair market value for the property? Also, if all the property were to be sold, the city would incur expenses of $80,000 to $90,000 to put in sumps and move a pressurized irrigation line thus eroding the value gained from the property sale.
This is not an accurate statement. There is no connection between signing the referendum and a park fee or property tax increase. This is pure fear mongering. The sale of the property and a park fee are totally independent from each other. This is misrepresentation.
The net annual financial benefit to the city to selling the trails and open space, excluding the one-time money, is $13,800 or $0.25 per month per household. If the city were to implement a tax or fee to cover this lost benefit few would call it a significant tax or fee (no council would ever initiate a tax or fee for this small amount).
The cost to seal coat all Highland City trails is about $140K. The city increased the annual trail budget by $100K annually starting this year (3.8x the amount previous spent). The seal coating could be readily accomplished within a few years without a tax increase. The city has not provided any cost information with respect to repairing sections of the trail with large cracks but is in the process of creating a multi-year trail plan similar to the road plan that was put together a few years ago. Does the city need more money to maintain parks and trails? We don’t know yet. It will depend on a number of factors including what we the residents want in the parks and what we want on our trail borders. What we do know is that this sale will have a very negligible impact on annual costs.
It is interesting to note that two of the three council members who voted for the sale also proposed implementing a city-wide park fee of $8.00 per month on June 18, 2019. They did so without prior discussion in any council meeting or public meetings. To watch the video go to https://youtu.be/n3BXd9bL7sA?t=2554 (starts at 40:34).