Vision defines Park City
July 14, 2009
"I ran out of gas and decided to stay."
That’s what brought one community member to Park City. Others wanted to live in a ski town and didn’t like places like Telluride and Aspen. Some simply got jobs here and never left.
Vision Park City started with cute stories and memories about Park City. Interviews were conducted with 450 community members who were each asked 10 questions about their Park City experience including "What would make you leave?" and "When were you proud of Park City?"
Combined with 759 photos taken by locals of what visually represents the good and bad of Park City, and 345 comment cards, a team was able to take the findings and spell out what makes this town so special. The project tapped community members to explore where the community as a whole wants to be in 20 years.
"This wasn’t a mandate for telling City Hall how to run the city. This was more of a true visioning in terms of who we are and where do we think we should be," Mayor Dana Williams said.
The findings, analysis and recommendations were presented to City Council last Thursday as project organizers pinned down the things that are essential to Park City and are not to be trifled with. They found that Park City is a small town, in a natural setting and with a strong sense of community.
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"Those core values were the same, regardless of somebody’s socioeconomic background, employment or longevity of residence," Williams said. "The biggest takeaway was that people had a sense of ‘we.’"
On top of the core values, the three essential offerings of Park City were classified as world-class skiing and outdoor recreation, unparalleled property-ownership opportunities, and incomparable arts and culture.
The visioning project also identified what community members did not like or were concerned would happen, which included traffic, a loss of that sense of community, overdevelopment, and skyrocketing property values. "As positive as a lot of it was, I don’t want to lessen the fact that people have issues," Williams said.
However, he recognized that many of the issues Park City faces are products of its success.
"It was obvious that most people were aware that one of the most difficult things we try to do is juggle the needs of a community and the wants of an economy that’s based on tourism," Williams said.
Project organizers also isolated four elements that are impacted by changes in Park City. These included the economic impact, quality-of-life impact, environmental impact and impact on equity. This was the first visioning project that recognized equity as a valuable attribute and emphasized the importance of providing affordable housing near places of work, and affordable goods and services to all socioeconomic levels of the community. Organizers emphasized that individual projects often will not positive affect all four areas, but encouraged City Council to most importantly take into account the affects of a new project on each element of Park City.
The findings of the study will be presented to the public over the next few months and community members will be able to express comments and ask questions.
Then, City Council will use the findings to rewrite Park City’s General Plan, which is made up of the philosophical statements of the city and has not been rewritten since the 1990s, when the city was focused on planning and hosting the 2002 Olympics. As Park City has grown to an international destination town, not just for skiing, Williams said it is important for residents to ask themselves what that responsibility holds. He was positive about the findings from the visioning project and the apparent sense of community.
"At this point, while we have issues, we don’t seem divided," he said.