DRAPER — The population in this south-valley suburb has exploded by 333 percent since 1990, and the rapid growth has brought countless commercial developments and subdivisions with accompanying farewells to the city's farms and orchards.
Thus, candidates running for mayor of Draper, which went from roughly 10,000 residents in 1990 to roughly 33,000 in 2004, are focusing on how to handle that growth and plan for the not-too-distant future when a built-out Draper could be home to more than 60,000 people.
Summer Pugh, who is challenging incumbent Darrell Smith, hopes to parlay her Planning Commission and neighborhood council experience into the mayor's office with a platform of ethical development. Pugh, who was chairwoman of her community council before the city disbanded the program earlier this year, has been a vocal critic of the city's policies on development and open space conservation.
Pugh cites The Cove at Little Valley as an example of development gone wrong. Little Valley, a knoll south of Traverse Ridge Road in the southeast part of Draper, is in the path of a historical landslide. City and county engineers wanted the developer to install inclinometers and piezometers to measure ground movement, but they agreed that three of the $10,000 instruments could go in after construction was over to avoid damaging them. Pugh said that the city missed a chance to get things right the first time.
"They should have got things done right, up front," she said.
Smith said he'd prefer to leave the inclinometers to geologists, and he believed that the instruments would be installed within a few weeks, as per a consensus of experts.
"Some say they should go in before, some say when you get started into it, and some say when you're complete," Smith said. "They're not cheap pieces of equipment. There's some concern about the damage and the accuracy."
Candidates have raised and spent relatively little money, especially when compared to candidates in Sandy, Draper's northern neighbor. Smith has raised $3,650 and spent nearly $3,000. Most of his donations come from Salt Lake-area businesses for $500 or less, and most of Smith's expenses are for signs and advertising. Pugh has spent all of her donated $2,475 plus another $2,200 or so on marketing, advertising and campaign signs.
Pugh hopes her $2,200 debt will get her into the mayor's office so she can reinstate the city's four neighborhood associations that she said were invaluable for getting city information to residents.
"They cost nothing, and they were staffed by volunteers," Pugh said. "They were for the people to know what was going on in neighborhoods."
The city, however, has said that the associations were largely ineffective because people didn't participate in them. The exception, however, was Pugh's Corner Canyon Community Council.
Smith rebuts Pugh's accusations of ignoring open space by citing the city's purchase of Corner Canyon. Draper paid for the $14 million purchase Oct. 28 with a $7 million voter bond, a $6 million bond on city assets, $500,000 from a state conservation agency, and $500,000 from Salt Lake County. More than 1,000 acres in the canyon will remain undeveloped for hiking, biking and horseback riding with a perpetual conservation easement on the land.
The winning candidate will spend the next four years wrestling with the pressure that most growing communities face — how to balance preservation with development. Smith, who is running for his second term, has lived in Draper for all of his 61 years.
"I feel like it's a mixture between the old and the new — the history and the newness combining into a quality community," Smith said. "The settlers of Draper set a standard that continues to be felt and admired and respected."
Pugh thinks that Draper can be judicious with its growth because people naturally want to live in the city.
"It's a great place to live because you're so close to downtown Salt Lake City, the mountains, the ski areas and St. George," Pugh said.
Voters will select Smith or Pugh on Tuesday in the general election. They also will elect two at-large City Council candidates from the field of Stephanie Davis, LaMont Smith (an incumbent), Jeff Stenquist and Troy Walker.