SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who has publicly opposed the plan to build a gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon, offered condolences and words of support this afternoon to those who also opposed the project.
UDOT approved a plan for the gondola, issuing a record of decision earlier this morning, July 12.
“For those of us who oppose the gondola, today is not a day of doom and gloom,” Wilson stated. “It’s important to note that the record of decision issued by UDOT includes a phased approach.”
Wilson said the gondola is, at minimum, still 25 years away. She says that for those that “care deeply about the canyon,” there is still plenty of opportunity to prove that bussing and improved transportation will work.
At the same time, Wilson acknowledged that UDOT’s decision is tough to swallow, and thanked the community for their willingness to be vocal in their opposition.
“We love our canyons. We think that a half-a-billion dollars, in terms of today’s dollar, a billion over time investment, is one that will indeed harm our community and not help it.”
Wilson makes it clear that she understands why 61% of Utahns voted against the move to build a gondola.
“Recreation is in our heart and soul as Utahns,” she said. “There’s so many reasons that we should be concerned.”
She made a final point that, while becoming more and more concerned about the gondola, she sees the financial issue as particularly difficult.
“There is not financial equity with something as expensive as a fixed gondola. The taxpayers are going to pick up the bill,” Wilson states. “We calculate $300 per resident.”
That estimate of $300 applies to the state tax. Not to mention, Wilson said, that total does not include the fee to ride the gondola.
“That’s just not right for kids in rural Utah who never will even make it to Salt Lake County,” the mayor said.
Wilson noted that she wished the county, or, perhaps, the forest service, had more of a say in the decision. She said that UDOT was behind the wheel, making voices at a local level less heard.