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Phillip Bimstein, Collaborative Relationships

NPS Partner Phillip Bimstein
In 1993, Zion National Park issued a conceptual plan that advocated a shuttle system to relieve the auto traffic congestion in Zion Canyon. Traffic congestion on local and regional roads was impacting the gateway community of Springdale, Utah as well as the park. The community proposed extending the transportation system being developed by the National Park Service into the town of Springdale, Utah. Superintendent Don Falvey was receptive to the idea and began working in partnership with Springdale's newly-elected mayor, Phillip Bimstein, to develop an award-winning transportation system that serves both the park and community. Phillip and Don assembled a 10-member committee to devise a transportation plan to meet the needs of both Springdale and Zion National Park.

Key to the success of the project were the personalities and collaborative relationship of Phillip and Don. The newly elected mayor's style and interest in working with the park complemented Don's desire to build a meaningful partnership with the community.

Phillip recognized that the park's and the town's interest overlapped. Both Phillip and Don believed in the preservation and protection of the park's resources and providing public access. They never lost sight of their goal to preserve the heritage, culture and character of the park and the community while providing a quality visitor experience.

Don Falvey, former Superintendent of Zion National Park, comments on Phillip Bimstein:

Sharing a common vision was the foundation for forming a strong partnership between the Town of Springdale and Zion National Park.

It began with Phillip's first visit to the park when, as a camper at the park's Watchman Campground, he was awed by the scenic grandeur of the towering sandstone canyon walls that surrounded him. He was so impressed that he decided to buy a home in Springdale and pursue his career as a music composer there.

His appreciation of Zion's spectacular natural environment led to his desire to help ensure its preservation. He was concerned with the impacts of large numbers of visitors who traveled through the town on their way to visit the park and with the increasing pressures for development in the town. When asked to run for mayor, he accepted the challenge.

Phillip invested a lot of time getting to know the citizens of Springdale and their concerns and desires for how the town should be managed. He also became acquainted with the park, its resources and its issues. Recognizing the benefits of combining efforts, he established a liaison committee composed of several town citizens who represented the variety of viewpoints in the town. This committee formed the basis for active communication between the town and the park. This forum led to some innovative concepts that were incorporated in the transportation system that operates in the town and the park and became a model for other gateway communities and national parks.

As mayor, Phillip espoused a philosophy that preservation of natural resources had an economic value for Springdale. Through preservation of natural values, he argued, the town would gain from providing a unique experience for the visitors, which would in turn encourage them to stay in town, enjoy the variety of restaurants, motels and gift shops and, of course, spend money.

Phillip became an avid spokesperson on issues relating to preservation of the park and its surroundings. He made presentations at Congressional hearings supporting wilderness legislation and preventing aircraft overflights. He also made presentations at several sponsored training sessions while the transportation system was in the planning stages and appeared at other workshops and conferences describing his experiences in forming park-gateway community partnerships.

The partnership led to a lasting relationship beyond the transportation system. The town and the park have agreements for joint water and wastewater treatment facilities and for emergency response. (The town and the park each have one ambulance and coordinate their use to ensure a quick response). The town's volunteer fire department trains regularly with the park's rangers and each back-up the other. One of the park's fire engines is housed in the town's new fire station to facilitate a fast response time when needed.

The park and the town have a reputation of working together, especially in times of emergency. When a landslide blocked the Virgin River above the town and threatened to flood the park's campgrounds and the motels along the river in town, Phillip responded quickly, aiding in evacuation efforts and offering the use of the town's park as a temporary camping area for the displaced park visitors. Park staff and Springdale townspeople worked together in assisting three families whose homes were destroyed by an earthquake.

These examples illustrate the care and concern Phillip has for the town and the park. The synergy that has been developed continues even though Phillip's eight year tenure as mayor expired.

In his message to the citizens of Springdale as he left office, Phillip wrote, as only a music composer could, "For the past eight years, I heard us blend our themes in a wonderful collaborative composition. The music we make together is not always in the key of 'C'. Our styles are as varied and distinct as classical, jazz, gospel, rock, reggae, hip-hop, country, folk or bluegrass. However, each individual theme has validity and the capacity to enliven our minds and express our hearts. When we add our voices to this ongoing symphonic hoe-down, we compose our community together."

Phillip Bimstein comments on his participation in the partnership:

I moved to Springdale because of Zion National Park. Zion's powerful landscape strongly drew me and I felt I had to live there. As a composer, the beauty, inspiration, wide open space and natural quiet are very important to me. So when the opportunity came along to help preserve the park, I seized it. The partnership is a natural way to wed what I see as the parallel missions of both the park and the town: to preserve and protect our natural and community resources, and to make those resources available to our millions of visitors in a high quality, enhanced experience. Cultivating the partnership and designing the shuttle system was a superb way to accomplish that. It allows continuing visitation without degrading the experience.

I am very pleased with the partnership because it accomplishes so many good things for the park, the town and our visitors (see above). The shuttle system gets very high marks from visitors. It's wonderful to hear how much they enjoy the quiet, the wildlife, the ease of getting around, and the pleasure of being able to experience the park without having to drive and look for a parking space. It is satisfying to know the partnership creates a legacy of care for the future.

The greatest satisfaction comes from the friendships that developed between park personnel and town residents. For me that especially means the friendship I continue to have with the man who did the most to foster that partnership, former superintendent Don Falvey, and his wife Carole, who cultivated much of the social capital that made this partnership possible.

Seek and discover the ways in which your missions mesh, so you can focus on mutually desirable goals. Listen with respect to one another, like good musicians who take their turns between soloing and accompanying one another. Ensure that divergent themes and opposing views are heard and taken into account, by all sides. Don't be held back by occasional dissonances; while many different voices may not always blend harmoniously, they can still contribute to a productive dialogue and a valuable result. And find the Don and Carole Falveys of your community, who can foster the kinds of relationships which build partnership!

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