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Davis Journal

Long-time city administrator says goodbye

Sep 16, 2021 09:22AM ● By Becky Ginos

Gary Uresk sits by Legacy Parkway. He was instrumental in getting the highway designated as a Scenic Byway. Courtesy photo

WOODS CROSS—It’s been 28 years since Gary Uresk took over as city administrator of Woods Cross City. Now he’s ready for the next chapter – retirement. 

“When I applied for the job I’d drive up I-15 and see shopping areas and refineries but I didn’t realize there was a really vibrant community here,” Uresk said. “This is a very good community. People are involved and care about the community. It’s been a good experience. That’s why I’ve stayed.”

Uresk got a Master’s degree in urban planning from the Kennedy School of City and Regional Planning at Harvard. “It was a great experience,” he said. “I enjoyed going to school there. I got married and we headed off to start school in Boston.”

When he graduated in 1982 it was the Ronald Reagan years, Uresk said. “There was a cutback in government spending and it was difficult to find a job. I was raised in the Uintah Basin and when I was going to BYU I worked in the county recorder’s office. I went back there and worked for six to eight months in Duchane.”

A job became available in Clinton and Uresk interviewed there. “I got the job and moved to Davis County in 1983,” he said. “I hadn’t really contemplated living in Davis County but I have certainly grown to love it.”

A job at Woods Cross came up in 1993, Uresk said. “It offered some different opportunities down here.”

One of the first issues he faced when he came to Woods Cross was the relocation of a salvage yard off of 1500 South. “It was a very complex problem,” he said. “It was an eyesore. Frank Branch was the owner and we worked with him to move it to 2425 South down by Legacy Parkway. We bought all that property down there to move him. Over time we sold all those lots down there. It’s not simple to move a salvage yard.”

Uresk also played an integral part in the construction of Legacy Parkway. “We worked with UDOT on the alignment then it got bogged down by an environmental lawsuit,” he said. “UDOT relied on local governments to get that.”

Then he worked to get Legacy designated as a Scenic Byway. “That’s an interesting process,” said Uresk. “People said that’s not a Scenic Byway, it doesn’t have anything in comparison to other byways. But the Great Salt Lake preserve does meet the rules of a Scenic Byway. That was the impetus so it has special protection like not having billboards. We didn’t want it to be just another highway.”

The Great Salt Lake Scenic Byway also includes the West Davis Corridor, he said. “That makes it much better. Before it was the Scenic Byway to nowhere. It was short and stopped at Antelope Drive. Now it connects to the causeway so visitors can take the byway and get out to Antelope Island.”

It was disheartening when the truck ban was removed, said Uresk. “That kind of hurt. It still has a different feel than I-15. It’s designed differently.”

Big changes have taken place since Uresk started at Woods Cross. “The city has experienced significant growth,” he said. “Clinton was basically a farming community where we put subdivisions in fields. The biggest issue was a farmer letting his water run. In Woods Cross there’s an airport, Redwood Road, more interface between commercial and residential and major industrial areas such as refineries that have more impact on residential areas.”

Now Uresk can leave that all behind and focus on his retirement. “I”ve got some projects to work on,” he said. “I don’t really know, I might do some fishing. I’ll keep busy. A lot of what I’ll miss the most are the associations with the people I’ve worked with. Over the years I’ve built some great relationships. Those are the things I’ll miss.”