SALT LAKE CITY — Envision Utah has started the massive job of planning how to develop land at and around the rapidly growing Point of the Mountain area connecting Salt Lake and Utah counties.
The state recently chose the local planning organization to head up redevelopment of about 700 acres that will be vacated with the relocation of the state prison in four years. But the project goes well beyond that, with about 20,000 acres along the so-called Silicon Slopes that officials say will develop over the next 10 or 20 years.
Chris Conabee, co-chairman of the Point of the Mountain Development Commission, said such an opportunity might not exist anywhere in the United States or the world.
"We know that this project will take decades and that it will see recessive environments," Conabee said. "But we also know that if planned properly and executed properly, it will be one of the greatest assets we can leave our children and grandchildren."
More than 57,000 jobs have been created along the I-15 corridor between Midvale and Pleasant Grove since 2010. Lehi trails only Salt Lake City in new office construction in the state.
Planners expect another 250,000 jobs and hundreds of thousands of new homes as the area develops and the populations of Salt Lake and Utah counties grow to a combined 2.7 million people, Envision Utah President Robert Grow told the Transportation Interim Committee.
Traffic is already a problem at Point of the Mountain, especially the morning and evening rush hour bottleneck. Other challenges include water, sewer, electricity and communications systems, Grow said.
Other issues include air quality and the gravel pit, and planning for schools, health care facilities and parks.
Envision Utah is tasked with figuring out what to do, how to do it and how to pay for the project. Grow said the prison site would be a major catalyst in the overall development.
"It's going to take money, lots of money," he told the development commission Monday, ticking off sources such as the state, cities, counties, venture capitalists and public-private partnerships.
Envision Utah has promised to cast a broad net to gather public input. It intends to seek ideas from officials in the cities and businesses along the corridor, as well as the public, over the next few months. It plans to set up an online brainstorming forum, take to social media and hold public meetings.
"I'm always amazed at how smart the public is when it comes to solving the problems because they live in the problems we create for them," Grow told the commission.
Utahns can share their "big ideas" for the area at pointofthemountainfuture.org.
Utah House Majority Leader-elect Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said planners want to be thoughtful and deliberate, but there is also a sense of urgency due to the rapid growth.
"This is one shot for the state in terms of getting this right," Wilson said, adding that the clock is ticking.
Grow said Envision Utah wants to have development scenarios for consideration next fall, and implementation and financing in place by early 2018.