Clearcut the neighborhood

  • Book cover of "More Dogs on Main Street"

  Whoever said irony is wasted on the West never met Tom Clyde. Clyde spent 17 traumatic years practicing law in Park City, Utah. In 1984, he packed his belongings into his Volkswagen bus and moved to a cabin on his family's ranch 20 miles away. From this safe distance, he has been providing the locals with laughs and an occasional jab under the belt in weekly columns for the town paper, the Park Record.

Clyde's new, self-published book, More Dogs on Main Street, is a collection of his favorite columns, sure to provide a chuckle to anyone who has watched a new-Western town flower like bacteria in a petri dish. He documents Park City's shift from a rough mountain town populated by ranchers, ski bums and their ubiquitous dogs, to a high-end resort community where newcomers tear down $2 million "starter castles' to build something better.

"At first, the idea of tearing down a house that has to be better than what 95 percent of the American people will ever live in, just to build a house better than 98 percent of American people's houses is disgusting," he writes. "But after giving it some thought, maybe this is the solution to our local desire to have growth and limit it at the same time. In the end, there is a tremendous stirring of economic activity from the demolition of the $2 million house to replace it with a $5 million house, but no net increase in the number of houses in town. We ought to look at clear-cutting other neighborhoods to start over."

Clyde doesn't see much promise for change in new zoning codes and building regulations, but he does have a few suggestions for controlling growth:

"We could probably address the (growth) problem through reduced services. If it took three days to get plowed out of the back end of Park Meadows on a snowy morning, the appeal of housing there might fade a little ... And don't forget the positive impact of a few rusted-out old cars in the front yards. Few things communicate a community's resistance to change better than a collection of rusting pickups in the yard."

*Greg Hanscom

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