In addition to the toolbox full of construction projects already underway in Park City, especially in the downtown district, Park City Municipal is planning to begin work on millions of dollars of improvements around town.
For many residents the work will likely be a mild inconvenience with big rewards at the end, but for merchants in the ongoing Main Street war zone, it is bound to be especially painful. Those business owners have already endured months of dodging torn up sidewalks, scurrying through plyboard walkways and trying to ignore the sound of heavy equipment.
The upcoming city projects were displayed at an open house this week and include an impressive array of amenities. One of the most ambitious is a plan to renovate the Park City Library and Education Center located across from City Park on Park Avenue.
The structure itself is a handsome nod to history but, admittedly, the interior needs significant upgrading. The building has served the community well, as a high school, then a middle school, now a bustling center that houses a cooperative preschool, a library and a popular auditorium. With a well-thought-out plan that takes all of the building's varied uses into consideration, it will assuredly continue to be a vital community asset.
Another important target for improvement is the busy walkway between Swede Alley and Main Street highlighted by a well-loved bench-warming bronze bear. The creature is seldom without company and is perhaps featured in more selfies than any other celebrity in town.
In addition to housing a cuddly sculpture, the walkway serves as a vital connection between the Old Town transit center and Main Street. Over time, as bus ridership and special event foot traffic has increased, it has become apparent that the walkway needs to be both widened and beautified. When finished the project should be worth the temporary detour.
Other projects on display included more sidewalk replacements along Main Street and a plaza on Swede Alley.
All of the projects are worthy, but the city must keep in mind the larger context in which construction has nearly overwhelmed the business district's ambiance. Hard working merchants who survived the recession and were just beginning to enjoy a modest economic recovery should be given utmost consideration moving forward. If that means some of the more ambitious plans, like creating a public plaza on Swede Alley, must be postponed, so be it.