Talbot reflects on his years as Farmington mayorDec 02, 2021 01:36PM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Farmington Mayor Jim Talbot and his wife Karen have loved living in the community for the past 24 years. Photo by Tom Haraldsen
When Jim Talbot moved to Farmington 24 years ago along with his wife Karen and their children, he didn’t realize the impact he’d have on the community. It’s been quite an impact. He took time to reflect back on his eight years serving as Farmington mayor, what’s happened to the community during that time, and what the future may bring.
Talbot had spent most of his professional life as a developer, a skill set that would prove particularly important when he was asked to serve on the city Planning Commission under former mayor Dave Connors. “I think it was the perspective I had with developers that made Dave reach out,” he recalls. Farmington was just starting to grow when he got on the PC, watching the layout for the future. Smith’s had opened its market at that time, and Talbot’s development firm had attracted Kmart to the community. Those two retailers, along with the Lagoon Amusement Park, were pretty much the only retail revenue generators in the community. He knew there needed to be more.
He enjoyed his work on the PC, and was later elected to the city council. In 2013, Mayor Scott Harbertson was not seeking reelection and Talbot felt “we hadn’t gotten everything done that we wanted to do. So I ran for mayor.” He won, and the next phase of his plan began.
His first priority was continuing the development of Station Park, a multi-million dollar regional shopping center, something he started working on during the Planning Commission days. The goal was to make Station Park profitable, starting with the first phase which was the Harmon’s supermarket.
“Everyone said it couldn’t be done in Farmington,” he recalls about the Station Park concept. “We were in the narrowest neck of Davis County, divided by four roadways. I met with and loved the developers (CenterCal) and what they were bringing to the city. I didn’t want us to be just a normal city at all. I wanted us to be unique and a gathering place.”
Many other businesses joined the party. Mercedes Benz opened its second-ever Utah dealership in Farmington. Software megastar Pluralsight opened its first headquarters in the community. The University of Utah opened a health center. Both large and small retailers filled the rings at and around Station Park. It was financially a success from day one, and that success was just the beginning.
The city needed a recreation complex – a ball field for its aspiring teams to play upon, and a recreation center for indoor sports. Voters narrowly passed (by just 25 votes) a 20-year revenue bond to construct that facility on the city’s westside. The city paid off that bond in just nine years, bolstering its credit ratings to levels seldom seen by municipalities.
“There was such a ground-roots effort by residents to get that bond passed – lots of soccer moms and PTA groups and many others,” he said. “We never could have done it without all that help and support. It’s a beautiful facility and the residents have told us over and over again how much they love it.”
When it came time for the 2016 election, Talbot said he ran for another term because “I had this dream about a business park. We had a lot of land on the west side, and City Manager Dave Willheim and I started working on that. I found great support in the community and I looked at both of my elections as a real compliment, because the residents of Farmington are really engaged. They are highly educated, the median income here is high, and they’re first and foremost really nice people. So it was a real pat on the back that they had enough confidence to support us.”
That business park is in development.
“The whole thing has been based on trying to keep the downtown the way it is, trying not to do too much, and use the ground out west to compliment Station Park and to make us viable for the next hundred years.”
To know Jim Talbot is to also know his wife Karen, and how vitally important she has been to his life both as an elected official and as a husband and father. They met at BYU where Jim was playing on a baseball scholarship. Following a two-year church mission to Colorado and New Mexico, they married in 1973. She is not just his biggest support, but also his biggest fan. During our interview, they continually held hands.