Scroll down to listen to an interview with Provo Mayor John Curtis
If Provo Mayor John Curtis gets his way, a trip to the beach might no longer require that 12-hour drive to California.
A beach at Utah Lake, along with other projects, is part of Curtis’ 20-year vision for Provo, also known as Vision2030. Curtis said there are plenty of things to look forward to this year, especially with the development of the downtown Provo area, along with plans the city has for economic development.
For one thing, Curtis is excited with the infrastructure development going on in the city. With buildings popping up around Provo, construction is bringing work as well as money into the city.
The Utah Valley Conference Center, being built by the county, is slated to open in May. BYU’s new life sciences building is under way, as is NuSkin’s $100 million building.
Though the city hasn’t been given a timeline as to when work on the new LDS temple will start, Curtis is hopeful construction will start sometime this year.
Curtis has also met with local business leaders to work on developing Provo into a successful commercial center.
“The Business Development Cooperation will work on filling our empty storefronts, helping businesses get started, and be successful in our downtown area,” he said. “There’s also a new organization that was just formed called the Downtown Provo Inc., where business owners are coming together to help market and promote downtown.”
Dickson Holmes, deputy mayor, said through the Downtown BDC, the city mentors existing businesses, and also has a fund that has the possibility of loaning money to new businesses.
“If we can connect the dots with needs and wants, that’s good,” Holmes said. “We entice businesses to be a part of what we have down here. We have had nine new restaurants open in the past six months.”
Jordan Troxel, a junior from Provo majoring in exercise science, said when he was growing up, people never used to go downtown.
“South of campus has always been pretty ghetto. Now, it’s not so dirty, not so nasty,” Troxel said. “It’s actually drawing people there and its never been like that before. It’s good it’s now going that way.”
To bring jobs to Provo, the city has also been offering incentives in a number of places.
“We have a manufacturing park in Provo that’s about 200 acres and we’ve put some incentives on that to bring jobs to the city,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for businesses to bring and recruit to Provo. That’s a big goal of ours.”
Downtown, the city is finishing up work on the Center Street intersection, which should help with traffic on the smaller roads.
“This year, we are redesigning our sidewalks,” Curtis said. “There will be people eating out in the sidewalk area for restaurants. Sidewalk space will also be able to accommodate sitting areas and plazas.”
Slated to be completed in December 2012, the FrontRunner train will be a great Christmas present to Provo. Curtis is especially excited for it because it will allow people to come to the BYU or UVU campus, commute back and forth to work, travel without putting more cars on the road and help with economic development.
As a former student at BYU, Curtis spoke of his love for the school and said he hopes students realize what a great opportunity it is to attend the university.
“I have three children attending BYU right now,” he said. “I hope students know how much we appreciate them. Sometimes they get frustrated and need to be patient with us. I welcome dialogue with the students.”
Curtis explained there are some places in Provo now that look exactly the same as when he was a student in Provo in 1985.
“My feeling is that when we don’t articulate a clear vision of where we want to go, then we falter,” Curtis said. “It was extremely important to me that Provo articulate where we wanted to be in 20 years, and as we did so that we thought big, that we dreamed big.”
One of those dreams is having that beach at the lake.
“So let’s dream a beach at the lake,” he said. “It may not be possible, but if we don’t put it in, we won’t do it.”
Curtis admits there are some things he doesn’t know how to get done.
“But, because it’s 20 years away, I get the luxury of dreaming,” he said. “I believe that if we put it out there, opportunities will come along.”