Making Neighborhoods Better

Making Neighborhoods Better
Posted on 08/01/2016

By Councilman Scott Bracken

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending our annual Neighborhood Watch Coordinators pot luck dinner at Bywater Park. I enjoyed interacting with the many volunteers in attendance, and the members of our police department that make this program work.  Police work is enhanced when our citizens help by calling officers when they see something suspicious in their neighborhood. Officers can’t be everywhere all the time, but ours can get there quickly if someone calls. Listening to various stories and anecdotes about interactions between Neighborhood Watch groups and CHPD,  hearing about the work that each puts into their responsibilities, and residents’ questions about issues specific to their neighborhoods reminded me of the resilient nature of volunteerism that has been a part of Cottonwood Heights for as long as I can remember.

Even before the formal incorporation of the city, I remember being called to attend a meeting with the other nine candidates that made it to the November 2004 ballot. At that meeting, various volunteer groups were formed to begin working on obtaining information that the new council would need to create a budget, find and secure office space and other things the new city would need. They did this with the motivation of making Cottonwood Heights the best place it could be – and the new council implemented their work immediately after the final election.

Within a few weeks of incorporation, a city resident stood up at our council meeting and suggested a summertime celebration – something this area had never had.  We’ve just completed the twelfth Butlerville Days. The event has become a tradition for many families and would be impossible without thousands of hours from hundreds of volunteers each year. We have friends and former neighbors that come back each year to celebrate with us.

Also within the first two months of incorporation, three students approached the council and asked if we could form a youth city council to give students a chance to pitch in.  I had the opportunity of organizing that council with the help of those three young pioneers. Over the past eleven years, more than 400 students have had the chance to do service work in the city (at events like Butlerville Days, Bark in the Park, the Easter egg hunts, and more), and learn about municipal services. We also attend a conference at Utah State University each year where the students can interact with other cities’ youth councils.

Work by volunteers is integral to what happens around the city as well.  I hope you had the chance to visit the historic committee’s display at Butlerville Days. That committee collects, organizes, and puts together valuable information about the area.  They recently completed a study on historic buildings in the city. They are responsible for the historic markers along the Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail (a good short walk/family outing if you haven’t been yet) and the signs posted around the city identifying particular historic areas.

Our arts council volunteers put on the city play each year. There are a few more performances left this year – August 4-6 if you haven’t already seen it.  The council's other  efforts include writing workshops, art displays, concerts and very soon, they will oversee power-line pole decoration – as last month’s council article detailed. Both the arts and historic committees are looking forward to having their own storage space at the new city hall that should  be finished within a few weeks.

Even the new city hall building has involved volunteers, from citizens with decades of building construction management, to the development review committee, to the youth council planting trees nearby on Earth Day.

I would like to reiterate the gratitude which the city council has expressed for the many people that help Cottonwood Heights be the great place it is. This thanks is directed at all volunteers in the city, not just those that do things for the city. Coaches, teachers, mentors, senior citizen service providers, babysitters, helpful neighbors and litter-picker-uppers all contribute. Thank you for your efforts.