March 15, 2006
1900: Boom! A 10,000-resident mining boom town.
1951: Bust! Listed in the registry of "Ghost Towns of the West;" 1,150 residents.
1963: Reinvent! Federal loan jump-starts Treasure Mountain Ski Resort; 50,000 skier days.
2005: Boom! 15,000 residents (including Snyderville Basin); 1.6 million skier days; $2 billion in real estate sales; home prices up 50 percent from 2002 to 2005; $156 million in new building permits, up 34 percent from 2004.
In 40 years, greater Park City has benefited greatly from huge investment. Many have risked much and many have been greatly rewarded. While that statement is true, and as American as apple pie, it states the case too simply.
A community is by definition a collective of many parts, but the whole is worth far more than a mere sum of it parts and individuals. Without vision and a cooperative will to carry it out, greater Park City would have never been reinvented into a successful ski resort community. Our general plan is the document that lays out that vision of how the community should build-out decades into the future. The development code outlines the myriad details in creating new residential and commercial development. It is the rule book that all players have followed to balance our need for growth with an equal need to preserve the special mountain environment that is the Snyderville Basin. The success of our commerce is directly dependant on preserving that mountain resort environment.
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The vast majority of developers in Summit County understand this fact. They have actively participated in creating our plan and code, and building a successful community. In recent months however, a small group of developers have decided they don’t want to play by the rules. This group wants to rewrite the rules to their liking. Even in the face of the growth numbers above, they claim it is "impossible" to develop in Summit County.
So, following a sadly growing American trend, what have they done? Gone to court — 11 times in fact. One suit goes as far as to sue the county under the federal RICO statute. This is the law used to fight organized crime. Summit County may be many things, but the Sopranos they are not and never will be. If the stakes were not so high this could be seen as comical. But unfortunately, the potential negative impact to Summit County makes this no laughing matter.
Thankfully, our County Commissioners know they must defend our plan and code and not be intimidated by this attempt to coerce with lawsuits. Some have argued that we should negotiate and appease this group. Winston Churchill said an appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile — hoping it will eat him last. We need to support our Commissioners attempt to starve this crocodile now before it does real damage to greater Park City’s 40-year cycle of responsible growth that has benefited the community as a whole.