Ryan Summerlin January 5, 2016
Sometimes I see things differently. This may be one of those times.
Main Street Culture/Architecture: Developers are ruining Main Street by designing their buildings so they look like back home (LA, NYC, Boston, and Chicago) and not the mining town of Park City. Look at the new condos at the top of Main Street — no commercial on first floor — no one takes responsibility but most everyone feels it is a travesty. The Parkite — no need to comment. Watch what is approved at Kimball Art Center — more condos, less Old Town, no more culture on that anchor piece of real estate. Sadly Old Town is eroding again. This time may be the last time as our small quirky stores are forced out by high rents. Interestingly Bonanza Park developers, if they are as smart as I believe, may create an Old Town that will drive a stake through condo old town.
Trees: The city no longer has an arborist to advise them on tree protection as more development on the mountains destroys old growth trees. Then the city complains that replacing trees requires water. Meanwhile the temps go up and up as trees are destroyed by developers and the bark beetles. Remember the earth that is no longer shaded by trees now absorbs solar heat and releases it at night raising the ambient temperature. This is not to mention the heat created by huge homes with their heated driveways, heated pools and hot tubs. The developers and ski resorts are knocking down the trees that provide the best shade and absorb carbon dioxide. If they do replace them, it is with much smaller trees that will take years to grow to the effectiveness of the ones knocked down. So much for our Greatest Snow on Earth as we gleefully raise the temperatures. Remember Save Our Snow?
Middle class housing: Who are the managers of the stores, hotels, nurses, techs, teachers, small business owners, and other professionals? Where can they afford to live? As the real estate market heats up and middle class homes are torn down and replaced with vacation McMansions, the Middle class community members are being encouraged to leave by the cost of real estate and lack of affordable homes to rent. Today’s "affordable" homes are potentially available for families earning $80,000 to $90,000. Do we want to be a viable community?
Worker housing: At least worker housing is receiving some attention. There are some Habitat for Humanity homes in the city. What are the ski resorts doing to house their seasonal workers? Vail is now in town. They have some wonderful housing in Vail for their seasonal workers. If they build similar housing at PCMR and Canyons, they will put pressure on other area resorts to respond — or lose a portion of their valued workforce.
Finally an endangered item that I may have lamented losing in my past: the 50 and 55 MPH speed limits on State Roads 248 and 224. Psychologically some people get crazy when people drive in the left lane slower than the speed limits. I had a local limo driver cut me off last winter, even when there was no place further to go. So let’s drop those speed limits in the city to 45 and then to 40 or 35 as appropriate. We should take a breath and enjoy the beauty around us instead of focusing on the bumper/tail lights of the car in front of us.
It is not too late to make changes — yet. We are on a train heading 150 mph towards the hour when it is too late and it will take our whole community working together to make the necessary changes before we hit that wall in a few short years. Please participate in the discussions of our future and help shape it.