Armstrong's Intro To Dakota Pacific--The Devil's In The Details

Oct 12, 2020

Roger Armstrong and his colleagues on the Summit County Council were introduced Wednesday to the Dakota Pacific project.     While a number of aspects are attractive, Armstrong says that items like traffic impacts and affordable housing have to be studied.  

Armstrong sat on the Blue Ribbon Task Force that drew up the Kimball Junction Master Plan.    He said it looks like Dakota Pacific has addressed several of the issues in that plan.        

“There are opportunities there for affordable and workforce housing, co-located with transit.   There are public gathering areas which we really don’t have.  You only go to the other side, the east side of you will, of the Kimball Junction area, Redstone and that area.  There are not a lot of areas for people just to stop and gather and be a community and engage with each other, come in contact with each other, outside of cars.  It really is car-centric.  And the way they have this set up with underground parking, with a lot of trails that wander through the area.”

With all that, they still have to consider the traffic hassles already existing at Kimball Junction.      

“I think their traffic study, or what they presented, indicated that it would actually cause a slight reduction in traffic, or no impact.  But there were three exceptions.  And those three exceptions involve three of the busiest intersections on that entry point on 224.  I’ve said forever, since that project was up for sale, that if the traffic issues aren’t addressed, and if whatever is planned for that area exacerbates the traffic at Kimball Junction, that creates a real knot for us to try to work through.”

The proposal supplies affordable housing.   But will it result in what planners call “cannibalizing.”?        

“If the amount of workers required to support that development is just equal to the affordable housing, the attainable, the workforce housing that’s built, so that there’s no net gain to the community, or perhaps a net loss.   If more workers are coming in than the housing being built, that’s not a good thing.  That doesn’t really help solve that problem.  It could actually complicate the traffic situation there.”

A central question is, do we house our workers in the local area, or let them commute here?      

“Conventional wisdom right now is that it’s better for us to house em here, and try and cut down on that commuting for a variety of reasons.   But at the same time, the larger question of what that means for overall growth in the community and additional pressures on all of our systems here, including schools, health care and recreation facilities, all of that has an impact.   So those are pieces that move together that we have to be very, very careful about.”

Summit County Council Member Roger Armstrong.