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The Park City Council Moves Forward On Social Equity

The Park City Council continued their discussion about social equity at Tuesday’s meeting and unanimously agreed it’s time to put someone in charge to help steer the boat. Melissa Allison has more:

Former Mayor Jack Thomas and Council Member Nann Worel wanted to make social equity a critical priority last December. But with two new council members coming on board, the timing was delayed to include them in the conversation.

Another concern was how big of a part the city should take to create social change. Mayor Andy Beerman was of the mind that the city should be involved but that it was ultimately an issue that the community needed to own.

After several discussions, council made social equity a critical priority at their March retreat and engaged University of Utah Professor Kilo Zamora to guide them through the process of defining what social equity means in Park City, and educate them about the many nuances.

The question now is, how big of a role the city should take. To better understand the community’s thoughts on social equity, council had Zamora meet with members of the nonprofit community, the city staff and the community leaders at three different focus groups.

At Tuesday’s work session, Council Member Tim Henney shared some of the concerns.

"There’s a little bit of, ‘The city should be…’ and I’m concerned about that because I think what the city should be doing is convening this conversation," Henney said. "The community is ready for it and then okay, what should we do? ‘Well the city should…’ and I’m like, ‘Hey, you know, wait a minute. It’s kind of, "the community should."' So, I, did you get that sense at all in the conversations or am I just being hypersensitive?”

“I think it’s important to be hypersensitive on this topic.”

That’s Zamora. He said everyone was enthusiastic to participate but, does see a role for the city to play.

"They found value in convening," Zamora said. "They found value - there’s some political capitol that can be used. They found value in a way of bringing groups together to organize and to move on this."

"What we didn’t do in this meeting, is talk about how we should do that as a city," Zamora said. "Because we couldn’t ask that question until we actually knew how they felt about social equity. So this was a little bit more casual, it’s goal was not to assume anything about anybody.”

Council Member Nann Worel was at all three of those meetings. She said she left feeling energized and encouraged by what she heard.

“People were coming at it from very different places and yet they were all coming together that this was an important thing for our community," Worel said. "And it was very clear that it was ‘our’ community. When we opened, I made a comment that this needed to be a community effort and not just something the city was driving. And there seemed to be complete buy in from everyone that it’s not just the city’s responsibility to ‘do’ social equity. It’s something we all need to participate in.”

Worel also thinks it’s important to get input from the part of the community that is struggling to live in Park City.

Zamora told council the way they’ve gone about bringing social equity to the forefront in the community has created an opportunity they shouldn’t waste.

“I think the way you’re doing it right now is the best practice," Zamora said. "You’re at a crux and I’ve seen it with other communities. You’ve made it a priority and you start asking the folks in your community, ‘How do we do this and what’s the best approach to do it?’"

"You’re in a window," Zamora said. "And if you don’t access that group immediately and continue to drive down this, it’s just gonna shut.”

To avoid that – Zamora said the council needed to take action to keep it moving forward.

Council directed staff to create a request for proposals for a social equity coordinator and to bring it back to them at the July 12 meeting for approval.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.

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