Alex Butwinski | ParkRecord.com

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Alex Butwinski

Parkites have consistently complained about traffic, saying the gridlock diminishes the mountain-town lifestyle that they expected when they moved to Park City. Is the traffic in Park City bad enough to detract from the lifestyle? If so, please outline new measures City Hall could take to cut the amount of traffic. If not, should officials cut spending on efforts to better handle the traffic?

Traffic is at it’s worst along the 248 corridor from 7 to 9 in the morning and along the same corridor in the late afternoon. The Deer valley Drive, Park Avenue and Empire Avenue intersection exacerbates this ‘gridlock’. Our perception is in fact reality and the enjoyment of our lifestyle is negatively affected by traffic. In the near term the City will continue to encourage large employers to utilize the new 600 space parking lot at Richardson Flats for car pooling and shuttle vans. I believe longer term solutions should include opportunities for more perimeter parking and incentives to encourage their use by visitors and tourists. I also want to see pedestrian friendly planning in new developments such as NoMa where pedestrians and bicyclists are welcomed and the use of our extensive free bus system is encouraged.

The City Council-appointed Planning Commission holds wide-ranging authority in development matters, with the members having the power to make crucial growth-related decisions. Please describe your ideal qualifications for a Planning Commission member. Would you be comfortable appointing either a developer or someone involved in a development watchdog to the panel, as has been done in the past?

The Planning Commission’s primary role currently is to review proposed developments and their conformance to both the Land Management Code (LMC) and the General Plan (GP). Commissioners are also responsible for recommending changes and amendments to the LMC and the GP to Council.

The ideal Planning Commissioner needs familiarity with the General Plan and Land Management Code, must have the time and work ethic to analyze often complex proposals, be sensitive to the goals and visions of the community, must be able to understand the impact on sustainability and the economy, and must have an understanding of the development process. A person with these qualifications, whether a developer or a candidate with a different background, would be my choice for appointment to the Planning Commission.

City Hall requires construction crews inside Park City work under certain restrictions, typically known as construction-mitigation plans. Please discuss the effectiveness of the construction-mitigation plans. If they should be loosened, describe one way City Hall could do so. If they should be tightened, describe another restriction you support.

As the owner builder of our home, I have first hand experience with construction mitigation plans. Every project has it’s own unique set of circumstances and mitigation plans are best determined by the Building Department. They provide parameters to minimize the impact on the surrounding area. The current guidelines are reasonable and fair. It is incumbent upon the General Contractor to make sure the plan is followed during the construction process. It is the responsibility of the Building Department to enforce the plan. Better coordination between Building Inspectors and the Enforcement Officer is necessary. I would like to see more attention to project delivery schedules. Whenever possible construction deliveries should be scheduled to occur in off peak traffic times and in so doing minimize traffic impacts during high volume traffic periods.

Park City has for years touted its commitment to work force housing, sometimes called affordable housing. Do you foresee the local government continuing its long-running efforts to provide the housing? If so, please identify two locations where City Hall could build additional housing for the work force.

Park City’s commitment to affordable workforce housing is demonstrated in planning and completing projects to meet the demand. I believe that Police Officers, Firefighters, Teachers and service workers should have the opportunity to live in the community in which they work to foster relationships with the residents. While I do not believe the City should be the developer, I do believe the City will continue it’s efforts to ensure that workforce housing is incorporated into development projects to provide a true community and not create economically isolated neighborhoods.

The private development of NoMa provides us with the opportunity to design a project that successfully blends retail, commercial and residential uses. The City has also recently acquired property south of Quinn’s Junction and owns a parcel on Park Avenue (the old fire station and 2 lots on the East side) which provide additional alternatives.

City Hall has a wide-ranging program meant to reduce the amount of emissions linked to the operations of the municipal government, an effort to combat global warming. Does a warming planet threaten Park City? If so, describe a City Hall program you would like introduced to further reduce emissions. If not, please describe your commitment to the existing City Hall efforts.

Credible climate models show significant warming trends predicting the snow line rising significantly over the next forty years. Recently "where’s our snow" sponsored an event to increase awareness of that. A group photo of mostly children stood at the estimated snow line in 2050 – just below the top of the Payday Lift. At the 2006 Council Visioning Session, Council adopted a sustainability vision that recognized the interdependence of the environment, economy and community. The Sustainability team focuses on integrating Council’s strategic planning which will be shared and shaped by the community. Our commitment to sustainability is crucial to our future. The Sustainability plan represents a significant everyday commitment to balancing the interrelated goals of community, economy and environment. Three teams, working with other city departments identify and prioritize City projects. Recent examples are developing the tools to assist residents in measuring their carbon footprint and the 2009 Community Visioning Process.

Park City voters have approved $15 million in improvements meant to make the city a safer place for pedestrians and bicyclists. Much of the funding remains available, but a plan to spend most of the money has been endorsed. Do you agree with the list of projects that has been selected for funding? If so, what makes the list worthy of your support? If not, please identify at least one change you want made.

The community Visioning process earlier this year identified walkability, bikeability, and connectivity as integral to our quality of life in Park City. I was a member of the WALC committee whose mission was to understand, evaluate, and prioritize projects identified in the Landmark Design Team Study from 2007. The goal was to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and provide connectivity in the community. Whenever possible a "Complete Streets" approach was considered to include safe access for all users. Particular attention was also given to a "spine concept" which will dramatically improve connections to our existing trail system, neighborhoods and add to safety for residents and tourists. Elements of the ‘spine’ are underway with larger projects scheduled for 2011 and beyond. Approximately $7.7 million in projects have been bonded. Spending the remaining $7.3 million will be reevaluated and reprioritized over the next few years as projects are designed.

Immigrants from Mexico flocked to Park City as the economy began to boom in the 1990s, especially drawn to jobs in the construction industry and businesses that rely heavily on tourism. Please discuss the state of relations between the immigrants and the American-born Parkites. Are there any initiatives that City Hall should pursue to strengthen the relations?

Vision Park City identified the separation of cultures and economic disparity as two of the things we don’t like to admit about ourselves. I think these work against the sense of community we all speak about. One positive step the City has taken is funding a Hispanic outreach office based in the Police Station that has been very effective as an advocate for working immigrants unfamiliar with our laws and legal systems. Another is the visioning project’s conscious effort to find second language interviewers so that all parts of our community would be included in the process. Events such as the concerts in the park, street events such as the Arts Festival and other activities provide opportunities for all members of the community to come together and participate.

Park City has largely enjoyed an expanding economy over the past 20 years, but the recession has been difficult on City Hall’s budget as well as the private sector. Please discuss what you see as the municipal government’s role in ensuring a strong economic climate. Are there new programs that could be instituted by City Hall to reignite the local economy?

There must be a balance between how much government should do and what should be done by the private sector. Park City’s operating income is roughly broken into three major categories – property taxes, sales taxes and service fees. Sales tax and service fees fluctuate with the economy while property taxes are relatively consistent. The private sector and the City are partners in the tourism business that is our economic engine. Merchants and business owners have a responsibility to provide goods and services that visitors and residents need and want and to adjust these in light of current economic conditions. The role of the City is to facilitate the efforts among our two major ski areas, event promoters and our local retail businesses that will result in the growth of sales tax revenue and fees.

Main Street remains the most popular shopping, dining and entertainment district inside Park City, but it faces increasing competition from places at Kimball Junction and elsewhere. What measures could City Hall take to ensure Main Street keeps its top-shelf status?

Historic Main Street and Old Town are essential elements of who Park City thinks we are. One of the primary attractions for visitors is the successful manner we have integrated our mining history with our skiing and summer activities. This is what differentiates us from other destination resorts. Main Street has a special ambience and charm which lends itself to street events such as Sundance, the Arts Festival and our funky Miner’s Day Parade. With its restaurants and shops it is major driver of our economy today and in the future. Great care must be taken to listen to all of the stakeholders in the community and businesses, Change for the most part must be done carefully, incrementally and at a pace which allows detailed evaluation of the impacts which result.

Park City leaders have long tried to craft proper guidelines for building designs in Old Town, rules that typically pit property owners and house designers wanting fewer regulations against neighbors and preservationists desiring the restrictions. Do the rules now in place properly balance the two sides? If not, which side do they favor? Please describe a change you would support, if that is the case.

The recent changes to the Land Management Code (LMC) are evidence of the evolving process to preserve the historic nature and charm of Old Town. Council’s role in this process is the appointment of a Planning Commission it expects will use the Policies determined by Council when recommending changes to the General Plan and the LMC. Any change recommendations need to be evaluated fairly and with no preconceived opinions. Changes should continue to reflect Council Policies. The pending rewrite of the General Plan will provide another tool for the Planning Commission and Planning Department to evaluate how a project will fit within the code. Historic District Guidelines clarify the rules to aid the Planning Commission to integrate a historically consistent view with the ability to use modern building materials, The effect of mass and scale ultimately result in the streetscape necessary to retain the appearance of Historic Old Town.

The North of Main district, dubbed NoMa, is seen by its supporters as someday becoming a new hotspot with loft-style living, boutiques and restaurants. What is your vision for the NoMa district as it is redeveloped? How can City Hall help ensure a re-energized NoMa complements the other commercial districts in Park City instead of drawing business from them?

The NOMA district provides us with the opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper. Comprehensive traffic planning, circulation, parking, open space within the project and protection of view corridors should be considered in an overall master plan rather than spot development over time. An integration of uses are of primary importance to ensure that the basics of the General Plan and our core values are not compromised. The objective is to create an atmosphere distinct from the charm of Main Street, with a different mix of local and other shops. This is another opportunity to add a reasonable amount of affordable housing. The 2009 visioning process adds to the understanding of what we want to be now and 20 years from now. As the new General Plan is written the citizens vision will play an important role. NOMA and other projects will be guided by that Plan.

Parkites have repeatedly endorsed City Hall’s open-space program, passing ballot measures to pay for the land purchases and taking pride in the vast tracts of undeveloped ground that have been preserved. In recent years, however, there have been few major purchases as land prices have climbed. Please describe an open-space strategy that fits the market as well as preserves land that Parkites will cherish. Are there any parcels that are of special interest to you?

Open Space is another of our core values. There is approx $6 million left of the most recent bond issued for the purchase of open space. The challenge now is to identify affordable parcels that will noticeably supplement and complement existing open space. Much of the land around the perimeter of the city is already dedicated to open space. Attention can be turned to open space within the city possibly to enhance an open feeling in and around Main Street. One specific example would be to purchase land around KPCW and the State Liquor Store and develop a park to complement Main Street’s utility in hosting revenue generating events.

The Sweeney family has held rights to develop a hillside just west of Old Town for years. Please discuss your opinion of the family’s idea to build Treasure on the land. Do you expect that the Sweeneys and city officials will reach an agreement as the project is currently envisioned? If so, please detail your support. If not, what changes would you like seen to Treasure?

The latest proposal for the Treasure project is far larger than the one contemplated in the original Master Planned Development approval. It is extremely unlikely that the Planning Commission and subsequently the City Council would approve a project of that magnitude. The General Plan calls for projects which are appropriate to the surrounding area and this provides a basis for mass and scale limitations. In addition, a project of this scope will generate traffic that will grossly impact the surrounding neighborhoods. One option I would encourage would be a significant reduction in the size of the project at the Creole Gulch site with the possible "buy down" of density and/or transfer of some of the vested rights to a more appropriate location.

Talisker Corp. is among the largest landowners in the area, with holdings stretching from Deer Valley to the S.R. 248 entryway, and the firm has been one of the city’s most ambitious developers. Please assess Talisker’s performance since its arrival in Park City. What sort of relationship do you expect between City Hall and Talisker?

Talisker’s property stretches from Deer Valley to the Canyons. And while their property located near the SR248 entryway was recently transferred to the City they remain the largest landowner in Park City. The property and density rights from United Park City Mines were acquired by Talisker. Those parcels within the city limits and not previously planned for development are covered by no-development deed restrictions or conservation easements. I believe the City’s relationship with Talisker should not be a contentious one. Rather, the focus should be on adherence to the previously defined criteria defined in the development agreements surrounding the Empire Pass (Flagstaff) development (including the Richardson Flats recreation area).

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