The Heber Community Alliance for Main Street and Wasatch Center for Advance Professional Studies are working together to create a vision for Heber City’s future.
Wasatch High School student Kaleb Jensen is one of a half-dozen Wasatch CAPS members working with Heber’s CAMS group to create a vision for the Heber Valley’s future.
“We’ve been tasked with dealing with the 100-year-old problem in Heber which is who the heck are we? There's been discussion about being pioneers or cowboys or railroad people or agricultural and farming people.,” Jensen said, “We've kind of come up with a different solution from that.”
Fellow student Chandler Lake introduces the theme the CAPS students have proposed for Heber City and its Main Street.
“We did a little bit of research and we probed around with people's opinions and ideas,” Lake explained. “We finally settled on Heber is “Our outdoor sports destination”. After deciding this we looked around at some events that Heber could really benefit from if we implemented. We were looking at things, what would attract the most amount of visitors to come to Heber and participate? Remember Heber as, that's the place that I went and had that amazing experience.”
Lake says that the group came up with the idea to create a bi-annual outdoor event. Jensen says the event would showcase athletes competing in activities that already happen in the Heber Valley.
“We brainstormed this and there would be one in the summer and one in the winter,” Jensen continued. “We have all those facilities, so in the winter things would be focused around Soldier Hollow and all the skiing events and cross country and snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Then summer would be more focused around the lake and then like towards the bike path, mountain biking. We have a great skate park so we could do some BMX. We do wind surfing, paddle boarding, fly fishing and just getting everybody to experience what Heber has to offer.”
Heber CAMS director Tom Stone explains how the Our Outdoor Sports Destination theme balances the desire of locals. Those competing values being to have Heber retain it’s rural character and values while also still bringing in some economic benefits from visitors.
“We talked about the economic benefit,” Stone said. “The people in town said why are we so worried about everybody coming here? What about the ones that are already here? So, the flavor of saying this is our town. When you live here, you get to ride your bike to work. You can enjoy home right here you don’t have to go on vacation you can stay here, talk about a staycation. On top of that the other variable that is, what should we be? We talk about arts also, because a lot of people come and do paint. They’re on the roads all the time painting, doing those kinds of things. Should we do that? Well what we found was the people that go to arts festival's, generally speaking at least in Utah, are cheap. They don't really stay for a long time. They come for the event and leave. The people that do outdoor sports—so back to yes, it’s “our outdoor sports destination,” for us at home but also those who are coming. There is an economic vitality that would come in and really benefit the city as well.”
Stone says that reaction he’s heard from the Wasatch CAPS student’s idea has been largely positive. At a presentation to the city council last month Stone expressed how important the young professionals are to the success of CAMS.
“Because us adults, we get very close minded and we think what we think and it's usually one sided,” Stone explained. “I have found that these high school kids have something to say and they know what they're talking about and they don't have all this other stuff that they carry around, it’s a very fresh view.”
Although some may dismiss the CAMS and CAPS collaboration as pie in the sky, the group says they recognize that their next small step in the process is to bring a splashpad/ice rink on the block that holds Heber’s City Hall. You can read more about that here.