The Park Record editorial, March 23-25, 2011 | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, March 23-25, 2011

Main Street isn't too old to learn new tricks

The heartbeat of Park City still emanates from Main Street.

For most visitors, a trip to this historic ski town isn’t complete without a stroll and a meal or two on Main Street. Locals, too, like to congregate among the city’s iconic landmarks. But even a nationally recognized historic district can use an upgrade from time to time.

Over the years, Park City officials, with avid support from residents, have done an admirable job of preserving Main Street’s unique identity. Strict building codes, a unique preservation grant program and a vocal historical society have helped to hold the line against economic pressures that could have erased, or severely diluted, the street’s historic flavor.

But now Main Street is facing an even bigger challenge — how to provide new attractions without compromising the mining-era atmosphere that makes the town stand out among other destination resorts.

Those discussions are just beginning. This week the Historic Park City Alliance hosted an open house at which they unveiled a set of proposals to add activity areas to the street and improve the sidewalks. The plans are tentative at this point and could cost more than $6 million. But they are definitely worth exploring.

There are many compelling reasons to invest in Main Street’s future. At one time, Old Town was the only place to shop or eat between Coalville and Salt Lake City, but now there is plenty of competition right around the corner at Redstone and Kimball Junction.

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Also, to some extent, the city’s growing reputation has heightened tourists’ expectations, making it even more critical to upgrade their experiences while they are here.

Finally, new events like the Park Silly Sunday Market and novel offerings like the outdoor dining decks on Main Street have shown that locals respond in droves to fresh ideas.

It won’t be easy to hone the balance between preserving Main Street’s historic integrity and injecting it with some modern innovation and energy, but it needs to happen. Current proposals include a skating rink, a giant video screen at the site of the Brew Pub parking lot and a park at the trolley turnaround at the base of the street.

You can contribute to the process by joining the discussion. Sift through those mental postcards of great trips and unforgettable destinations and share those ideas with the Historic Park City Alliance and the Park City Council.

Main Street’s future depends on it.

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