Originally published in City Journals
The days are growing longer and warmer, and that means many county residents are looking for things to do outside this summer. We are blessed to live in the beautiful state of Utah, with countless scenic locations that draw locals and outsiders alike. But residents don’t have to go far to enjoy the bright summer days and pleasant evenings outside.
We want Salt Lake County to be a great place to live, work, raise a family, and recreate. Outdoor venues for a variety of activities contribute to good mental and physical health, and increase the sense of community our residents feel. We work better together as friends neighbors, and - yes elected officials - when we have a strong emotional investment in our community. I firmly believe adequate open spaces contribute to this community approach.
Whenever I face a budgetary decision in my role as a member of the County Council, I always ask myself some key questions. First, is this the proper role of government? In our zeal to solve problems and provide resources to our residents, it’s always helpful to constantly remind ourselves what the appropriate role of county government is. Second, is this an efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars? We want to make sure any government funded program, facility, or resource is operating with sound principles. And third, is this in accordance with the wishes of the taxpayers? Our job is to represent the people and their priorities as the public servants that we are.
The county’s open space amenities meet all three of these questions with a resounding yes. Open spaces are by definition a public good, our Parks and Rec department is a great example of efficiency, and voters have shown again and again the value they place on parks and open space.
We can always improve in our administration and management of county resources, and we welcome public input to help us do that. But I for one am pleased to live in a county that values the benefits to health and community that our beautiful outdoor spaces provide.
So this summer gather up the kids or grab your friends and come visit one of our many parks or open spaces. I hope to see you out there!
Aimee Winder Newton has been serving on the Salt Lake County Council since January 2014. She is the current chair of the council. Her district encompasses Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City and West Jordan, and a small portion of South Salt Lake and Millcreek... [read more]