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Canyon gondola opponents declare victory after mayoral election

Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 21:53:01-04

SANDY, Utah — A victory for an underdog candidate in the Sandy city mayor’s race is prompting celebration by those who oppose a big development plan in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Definitely ran as an underdog, I had a small amount of funding, but a big effort from people of Sandy to get me elected this campaign… so really proud,” said Sandy City Mayor-Elect Monica Zoltanski.

Part of that help included $10,000 from Friends of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Monica was struggling a little bit herself into the race. Friends of LCC decided to come together and breathe a little bit of life into her campaign,’ said Beverly Astin, Co-Founder of Friends of LCC Canyon.

This group decided to go all in to endorse candidates, who oppose the half-billion-dollar taxpayer funded gondola proposal.

“Going out and building the gondola now and placing 22 pylons is an impact to the watershed and an impact to the canyon visually. And it’s an impact that will be irreversible,’ said David Hart, Co-Founder of Friends of LCC Canyon.

Others believe the gondola is a long-term solution to the growing problem of traffic congestion.

“What we have learned is the more people learn about the gondola, the more they like it,” said Snowbird President Dave Fields.

Fields calls the gondola proposal the safest, most reliable, and most effective way to get up the canyon. He believes more buses will make traffic worse.

“If we just add more buses along with all the cars and try to add more lanes, it’s going to be a nightmare trying to get up and down this canyon,” said Fields, who adds that the road is avalanche-prone and he supports a gondola going over it all.

“We need to get people out of cars and into something that’s safe no matter what’s happening with avalanches in the canyon,” Fields said.

Hart says as a resident of the canyon, he believes the traffic problem is overblown.

“Going out and spending 600 million dollars to solve a 10 or 20 day problem is a tremendous amount of money that benefits a small amount of people. What we would like to see is a more phased approach,” he said.

With Zoltanski’s election to office, friends of LCC say their work continues. They plan to mobilize more voters and take this issue to the legislature.

“We want the legislature to take note, that the voice of the people is against us taking the gondola up this canyon and commercializing this area more,” said Astin.

There’s been more than 13,000 public comments submitted so far on the bus or gondola option. UDOT will make a decision in the spring.

Zoltanski still holds a lead in the ranked choice election. She posted on Facebook that Jim Bennett did concede to her Thursday night.