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Taylorsville Journal

Taylorsville Planning Commission attends ‘historic’ tour and training session in Herriman

Oct 22, 2018 04:11PM ● By Jana Klopsch

This Taylorsville contingent toured and trained with its counterparts in Herriman. (Carl Fauver)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com

“Our goal is to be the best-trained and educated planning commission Taylorsville has ever had,” Commission Chair Lynette Wendel said.

The city official who coordinates their efforts — Taylorsville Community Development Director Mark McGrath — believes they are already there.

“I have been doing this for 25 years, and this (planning) commission is the most dedicated and diligent I’ve ever seen,” McGrath said. “This group is unbelievable.”

McGrath said city residents and taxpayers should appreciate that because, the more proficient the volunteer members of the planning commission are, the more they can accomplish — and normally for a lower cost — to improve the livability of Taylorsville.

Years ago, McGrath hired Michael Maloy to work for him in the Taylorsville Community Development Department. Now, the two men team teach a city planning course at the University of Utah. Maloy was recently hired as Herriman City Planner.

“One of the best things that ever happened for me is working for this guy (McGrath),” Maloy said, as he greeted a Taylorsville contingent to make a little Utah history.

“As far as I know, two different city planning commissions have never worked and trained together as complete groups in the Salt Lake Valley before,” McGrath said. “This opportunity to share ideas — between two cities that have very different challenges — can only help each planning commission better serve their constituents.”

Planning Commission Chair Wendel said she and commission member Anna Barbieri came up with the idea for the Herriman field trip while attending that U of U course offered by McGrath and Maloy.

“We are constantly looking for ways to train and boost our education about city planning issues,” Wendel added. “As we attended Mark’s class, we got the idea to create our own book club within the planning commission, to review some of the books used in the course. And since (the second instructor) Michael (Maloy) works for Herriman, we also thought it would be helpful for the two groups to read the books and train together.”

McGrath liked the idea, because the two different city planning commissions face almost completely opposite challenges.

“Herriman is continuing to build out, and they are able to use the best design and layout practices in areas that have never been developed,” he said. “In Taylorsville, on the other hand, we are almost completely built out already. Our challenge is to make improvements here and there by retrofitting areas. So, I think the two groups have a lot they can learn from each other.”

Earlier this fall, a group of 11 Taylorsville City Council, Planning Commission and staff members boarded a van to make the trek to Herriman City Hall (5355 West Main Street, about 12900 South). There they intermingled with a similar group of Herriman officials for a tour of one of Utah’s fastest-growing cities.

“I loved the tour because we saw ways that we might be able to improve walkability in Taylorsville,” said Councilwoman Meredith Harker. “There are simple and less expensive things we can do to make our city a more inviting place. They don’t have to be million-dollar improvements.”

Harker is particularly focused on making the city center more attractive and walkable as construction gets underway on the new Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center.

“That is going to be an important new focal point for our city,” she added. “If we achieve a nice look there, it should inspire other improvements in our city.”

The only other Taylorsville City Council member to attend the tour was Ernest Burgess.

“This (Herriman tour and educational training session) can really help us with our vision for Taylorsville,” he said. “It was fascinating to me to learn how to improve streetscapes and do things like hide parking, to make pedestrian areas more inviting.”

After the 45-minute tour of Herriman, the two groups gathered to hear McGrath present highlights of a book he uses in his University course, “City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village.” Members of the two planning commissions were then to read the book and gather a month later (after press deadline) to discuss it.

“I have been pushing for our planning commission to do things like (the Herriman tour and training) because, you don’t know what looks bad in a city until you see it,” Wendel said. “Attending Mark’s class, arranging the tour, going to various city planning seminars — those are all designed to help us do a better job to make Taylorsville look inviting without spending too much money doing it.”

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