David Rodeback's Blog

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Saturday, May 9, 2009
Three Good Things I Saw in American Fork This Week

Excellent work by a contractor on the pressurized irrigation project, a faster City response to a nuisance problem than we used to expect, and an excellent stage production.

Excellence in Construction

I had lived or worked in construction zones a few times before the American Fork pressurized irrigation project came to my block. Now that it's mostly done here -- by which I still mean my block -- I have a few words of praise for the contractor, Terry Larsen Excavating (TLE) of Pleasant Grove (according to the trucks) or of Lindon (according to the Web).

Running pipe down the middle of a street, then connecting it to each lot, inevitably means blocking the street and driveways. The guys from TLE managed it all quite sensibly. In fact, they were solicitous and cheerful when it came to helping residents get in and out of driveways as needed, even when it involved some inconvenience to the crew. Furthermore, they not only seemed happy to have (adult-supervised) children watching them work at fairly close range; they also seemed pleased, in spare moments, to explain what they were doing and how and why, in response to seemingly endless questions. They were careful to leave as little of a mark as possible on lawns and yards. And when the work day was already supposed to be over, but a situation arose requiring considerable extra time and effort, they were philosophical and professional about working late, not cranky and vulgar.

Oh, one more thing. If you're wondering if it was TLE that dug into the natural gas line a couple of doors up the street, it was. But it was Questar that marked the line about six feet away from where the line really was, so you can't really blame TLE.

This "Hell Hole" Is Not Eternal

On Wednesday afternoon an American Fork resident e-mailed Mayor Thompson and the City Council, pleading for help in getting a neighboring lot cleaned up. This "hell hole," as she called it, is littered with junk cars and trailers, a broken-down school bus, and other assorted junk. The trees are long dead, and some old outbuildings seem ready to collapse. She said that the place is ruining the appearance of the neighborhood. She did not mention the virtual certainty that it is harboring rodents or the fact that the grass and weeds are getting rather tall, posing a fire hazard. All in all, it's just the sort of place that attracts the Neighborhood Preservation Committee's attention, and for which the City has nuisance abatement laws and procedures.

Here's the interesting part: She said the property belongs to American Fork City. She is not the first to ask in a nuisance-related context, "Why does the City own such degrading property, being non-compliant with their own laws? And what, if anything, is anyone going to do about it!?"

She sent photos but forgot to send the property's address; the omission was remedied by the next morning (Thursday). At that point, two things happened in parallel. (The one not involving me is the more important.)

  • MFCC forwarded the information to me, as a member of the Neighborhood Preservation Committee. I confirmed with online Utah County records that the City does own the property, and forwarded all the information to the Committee chair and a lieutenant at the American Fork Police Department who takes the lead in nuisance matters.
  • Mayor Thompson directed staff to confirm that it is the City's property and to take the appropriate measures.

Before the morning was over, staff had reported back to the Mayor, among others, that it is City property, and that arrangements had been made for a dumpster to be delivered the following day (Friday), and for volunteer workers to help with cleanup on Wednesday, March 13, after which City crews will haul away the garbage. In fact, the dumpster was already in place that same afternoon (Thursday), when I drove by.

We'll see if the cleanup actually proceeds swiftly and thoroughly. I think it might. But this is already a far quicker, more positive response than such situations used to receive under previous political leadership. It helps enormously to have elected officials who care about mitigating such nuisances, instead of considering the people who report them to be the nuisances.

Annie at AFJH

After being told for two days, by someone who attended earlier performances, how wonderful the American Fork Junior High production of Annie is -- it's actually Annie, Jr., a condensed version -- I decided to accompany the rest of the family to tonight's performance. We were particularly interested to see a fine performance by a young friend of ours.

I should note that Annie is not my favorite musical; in fact, I don't particularly like it, based on the movie. Nor is the American Fork Junior High auditorium among my favorite venues for such things; I have complained here before, I think, about the sound system in particular. On the other hand, I have noted in the past what I told one of my offspring today, who was not enthusiastic about attending: Even a musical you don't like tends to be enjoyable when you see it live. And people striving for excellence in any worthy endeavor are worth observing and applauding.

As it turned out, for a junior high production, it was superb. It was well cast, well acted, well sung (better by the girls than the boys, because this is junior high), well danced, and in general quite enjoyable for assorted Rodebacks ranging in age from four years to . . . me. The costumes and sets were excellent; even the sound system performed relatively well. And because it's a condensed script, it was still light outside when we emerged.

The final performance is Monday evening at 7:00 p.m.; I recommend it. But go early; closing nights are packed.

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