How Do We Improve Not Expand?

If the distressing string of 2019 events that spawned the launch of this campaign to fight over-building and its associated air/noise/light pollution, and danger for Cottonwood Heights residents wasn’t enough, perhaps launching our website SaveNotPave.org right now amidst the Covid-19 pandemic is appropriate and necessary.

“We are going to see more outbreaks as we deforest. We are pushing into the last wild spaces on our planet. Rising temperatures and deforestation are exacerbating the likelihood of additional and more lethal viral outbreaks,” according to both Alanna Shaikh, masters in International Health and Michele Barry, Center for Innovation in Global Health. This pandemic “…is a result of the way we human beings are interacting with our planet. Human choices are driving us into a position where we are going to see more outbreaks.”

What we do with our land and our lifestyle matters.

Why did I personally jump in with 800+ others to formally petition against the direction that UDOT is taking? In mid-2019, the UDOT project director promised verbally that the speed limit would be reduced to 35MPH and there would be a maximum of one house removed for the expansion. However, when UDOT’s “Revised Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS” came out in November, 2019, there was NO mention of a reduced speed limit and the study now reads: “We will examine how many houses will need to be removed.” 

While we all hunker down, the pandemic washing over us, we have the opportunity to look at the holistic picture and importance of our society taking a new, unprecedented approach to both local and global health. SaveNotPave is part of a larger movement to address the unsustainable building, transportation and land-use in order for a safer, healthier and more secure future. Economic stability is important but our community needs leadership that is focused on “Humans and Planetary Health”. That Planetary Health starts here in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

In 2019, there were over 800 of us who signed a petition stating our interest in Wasatch Blvd retaining its natural character with any build-out limited to three vehicular lanes, one of which would serve as Rapid Bus Transit. We appealed to both our Cottonwood Heights City Council and to the Utah Department of Transportation. I believe the number of us who have real concerns about the direction both these entities are taking is justified based on their track records in the past decade. Despite verbal promises to the contrary, we must be more persuasive as a voting block, unified in our message of Improve not Expand. We can do better.

SaveNotPave urges elected officials and all community leaders to not only pledge their awareness of the health risks associated with carbon-based transportation and building but report to the public on their record of follow through in this important public health area.

Cottonwood Heights could be a sustainability leader within the Wasatch Front by featuring Active Transportation, Transit and Smart-phone Technology.

Join us by adding your name and contact information on the Home page.

Best regards,

Ellen Birrell

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