Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ready for Spring Sunshine? Provo still needs Moisture

Wednesday March 20, 2013 is the Spring Equinox, which marks the first day of spring for the new year. After what seems like a long winter, with many days spent inside, many of us may be wanting nothing more than some warm temperatures and sunny skies. 

For Provo's water situation however, a rainy spring forecast may be just what we need. Provo Mayor John Curtis has already indicated in a post on his blog (link here) how Jordanelle and Deer Creek are currently at a mere 67 percent capacity, and local weather services have predicted that northern Utah is currently at 80 percent of normal in overall snow-pack. Today the Daily Herald also had a story about Provo's need for more moisture (link here). Both sources indicate Provo will need to accumulate some more moisture during the spring months to avoid a serious crunch on water resources. 

Residents are encouraged to remember wise water use strategies as they begin preparing their yards and gardens for the onset of spring. As always, the standard of no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. remains in effect, and any other smart use of water resources, such as avoiding peak use times of water consumption, is encouraged. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Council Member Post - Hal Miller

Breathing Easier Abroad and Someday at Home

It had not occurred to me that I would clear my lungs while in Guangzhou, China.  I was there a few weeks ago at the invitation of the Clifford School and arrived directly from a winter in the asphyxiating murk of Utah Valley.  My youngest son and I had lived a year in Guangzhou 15 years earlier and, during our stay, had grown accustomed to the banishment of the sun.  The leaden skies rarely parted. They shrouded the southern-China megalopolis in sometimes-palpable particulates.  What I frequently coughed up or blew from my nose was a personal sample of the fallout from numberless polluters.  Nor was wheezing uncommon.
In those days there were no government-issued sanctions, no policing of Cantonese air quality.  Everyone moved in a human-made miasma, sensing its eye-rubbing foulness and looming toxicity but doing little more than pointing to the obvious.  Now, in my latest return, although the sun was still cloud-hidden, something had changed.  Within two days the nagging cough and nasal drip that were my regular companions in Utah Valley, especially in winter, left me.  Breathing came easier, and there was no ominous sense of dangerous air.  Granted, higher temperatures and humidity, together with lower altitude, must be considered.  But if I rely just on my intermittent visits to Guangzhou since living there, I think it reasonable to assume that the provincial government’s air-quality policy has been transformative and in relatively short order.

Returning to Provo brought more than resumption of cough and drip.  Before the visit to Guangzhou and in the thick of mid-winter inversion, I suggested to my Municipal Council mates that we inquire about municipal-legislative initiatives to promote healthy air. Of course, no municipality like ours can cleanse the air on its own.  Although we may tend to the salient polluters in our midst, we are ultimately dependent on our neighboring municipalities as well as on cooperative county, state, and federal entities for an effectual solution.  At each legislative and bureaucratic level there are well-meaning, informed, and forward-looking specialists striving to identify and piece together the collaborative components that will end dirty air in our time.  We wish them Godspeed in that endeavor.
When a promising, adequately-articulated solution path is in place, then it will be necessary to harness the adequate political will to see it through.  Here is where Provo can lead the way, as it has historically.  A robust combination of municipal-legislative and citizen initiatives (think Utah Valley Earth Forum, Utah Moms for Clean Air, and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, for example) can go a long way  as vanguard.            

Indeed, it may well be that, in time, the usual suspects—dirty energy, automobile exhausts, commercial kitchens, and flatulent livestock—will be supplanted by scrubbed-clean counterparts, and we elders all will breathe easier, as will our children and theirs in perpetuo.  For this to happen, there must be a sustained civic swell, a resolute multipartisan insistence on nothing less than affordable clean air in quantity and available to all.

Hal Miller
Member, Provo City Municipal Council
10 March 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Council Visits CDBG Applicant Rocky Mountain University

The Council recently visited Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions to assess its application for funding from Provo’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the department of Housing and Urban Development (non-social).

RMU’s application for CDBG funds outlines their proposal to treat potentially 250 physical therapy patients per month as a part of rehabilitative care offered to the underprivileged and need based community in Provo in exchange for funding.

“The goal is to get these individuals back to good health and eventually the workforce,” said Richard Nielsen, President of Rocky Mountain University.  “This will also benefit students of RMU who will have a chance to get hands-on experience through internships which will enable them to learn as they treat these individuals.”

Rocky Mountain University is the most recent regionally accredited higher education institution in Utah, and has provided graduate level instruction to healthcare professionals and post baccalaureate students in Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, Nursing, and other health professions for more than a decade.

President Nielsen described a forward looking vision for RMU, explaining its recent accomplishment of becoming a regionally accredited institution, and explaining how the university plans on maintaining that accreditation.

“We’re regionally accredited, which is the highest degree of accreditation you can attain. It took us thirteen years, and once accredited, we have to keep up to maintain that status, so it’s not an easy process; it is a very demanding one,” Nielsen said. “ We've been collaborating with Lake Eerie College of Osteopathic Medicine to create a place on campus which will focus exclusively on Provo. The support from Provo and the community is one of the reasons we've chosen to locate our campus here.”

Council member Gary Garrett expressed the Council's approval for both the opportunities that RMU provides Provo students, and the economic impact which the university contributes to the community.

“We are pleased to know of the growth and success of Rocky Mountain University in Provo,” Garret said. “Not only does RMU offer much-needed health and wellness services to many in our community, but they also provide important teaching and training opportunities for students. We value and recognize their work.”

RMU President Nielsen indicated that the university already has a significant impact economically on Provo by drawing visitors which account for up to 4,000 hotel nights, and those visitors also spend money on Provo restaurants and businesses during their stay.

Nielsen said that RMU has a base of students from Utah’s Universities, with BYU and UVU making up the majority of in-state students. As the school continues to grow, it is expected to continue developing into a larger economic presence in Provo.

More information about RMU can be found at their site, here.

More information about CDBG funding can be found on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's website, here

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Provo State of the City

Mayor John Curtis presented a great video at Tuesday's Council meeting which discussed the "State of Provo City", including updates about recognition that Provo has received as a unique and vibrant city that's worth sharing.

To see the video, and read further about issues discussed at Tuesday's meeting, check out this great Daily Herald article which links to the video.

The Council's meeting on March 5 also included some great discussion of issues we mentioned in a post referencing agenda items to be discussed. We'll share more details on those matters later, in case you weren't able to attend.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Council Members Survey Tabernacle Reconstruction

Members of the Council surveyed recent construction progress on the Provo Tabernacle reconstruction process Monday.  

Although the bricks still carry the sooty stains of the fire that consumed the building two years ago, the building reconstruction is well underway, and as mentioned in a previous post, on track for completion in 2015.

The reconstructed facade now seems to float delicately over the earth, but it’s actually poised on metal stilts that support the building while the basement is excavated.

Provo residents are sure to see many more exciting construction mileposts as the construction process continues, and the building nears its completion date. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Council Agenda Standout Items March 5

Council Agenda Items for March 5

The Council’s agenda for March 5, 2013 includes two items which may be of particular interest to the community; allocation of “non- social” CDBG funds (Community Development Block Grant) and the alignment of Draper Lane.

CDBG Funds

Community Development Block Grant funding (CDBG) comes from the federal department of Housing and Urban development. On March 5, the council will be focused on discussing the “non-social” funding, which encompasses housing and other projects than community development. For more information about “social” CDBG funding, you can visit our blog post about that topic here. More details about CDBG can be found at the Housing and Urban Development’s site here.

Draper Lane Alignment

The council will discuss a resolution amending the Provo City General Plan Map 8.1 (link) Major and Local Streets Plan to amend the following zones:

  • The alignment of Draper Lane generally located on the east side of the I-15 corridor, between the freeway and the railroad tracks from 820 North to 500 South and;
  • The alignment of Lakeview Parkway from 1100 North to 2000 North Street and extend the alignments of 1390 North and 200 North westward to connect to the Parkway alignment (120004S).

Visit the Council's page on Provo.org to download the detailed agenda for the meeting here.