Main Street businesses park their frustrations at open house | ParkRecord.com

Main Street businesses park their frustrations at open house

The lack of parking near Park City’s downtown is an issue that has been, well, parked on Main Street for years.

A City Hall-led community open house Tuesday at Treasure Mountain Inn centered on solving the problem proved that it remains a hot topic. Several members of the Main Street business community showed up and voiced their frustrations about the lack of progress that has been made in recent years.

"Businesses are definitely concerned about parking," Alison Butz, executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, which represents businesses in the area, told The Park Record. "It’s all about convenience, accessibility and supply. You heard from people who are passionate about all of those. And it really is all about trying to make sure that people coming to Main Street in their cars can actually get here and park here."

To dig into the issue, City Hall has hired a traffic and parking consultant firm Nelson/Nygaard. Representatives from the company spoke at the open house and laid out their plan for studying Main Street’s parking and coming up with solutions.

Phil Olmstead, a senior associate with the Nelson/Nygaard, said he does not yet have all the answers and that the firm is eager to receive feedback from the community on what has gone wrong, what has worked well and what hasn’t. The goal is to come up with a parking system that is, above all, easy and convenient.

"That is the No. 1 guiding principle," he said.

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Olmstead also laid out what the parking picture looks like now and what possible solutions might entail. Currently, there are roughly 1,700 parking spaces near Main Street, both on the street itself and in other lots in the area. The firm’s initial look at parking patterns revealed that about 78 percent of spaces are full on weekends evening in an off-peak season.

Previous City Hall studies show the parking situation is much more bleak during peak times in the winter, Olmstead noted, though the firm has yet to collect its own data during those months.

Possible remedies the firm will study include: roadside signage that shows how many spaces are available at any given time, and where; variable pricing for parking, depending on factors such as time of the year and time of day; making it easier for people to bike or walk to Main Street; and satellite park-and-ride lots.

Additionally, the firm and City Hall have asked residents to fill out an online survey about Main Street parking to gather a more broad range of opinions. The survey can be found at parkcity.org.

But several members of the business community expressed skepticism that whatever solutions Nelson/Nygaard comes up with will be implemented. Multiple people said in the meeting that Main Street’s parking has been studied multiple times, with the results being filed away instead of developed into action.

Olmstead responded that he understands the frustration surrounding the issue. But Nelson/Nygaard’s study will be comprehensive, he said, and he will ensure the plan the firm creates can be implemented.

"Everything is on the table," he said.

Jesse Shetler, owner of the No Name Saloon on Main Street, was one resident who was vocal during the open house. He told The Park Record that the parking plight is so severe that many Parkites steer clear of Main Street altogether because of it. And the strong emotions on the issue stem from a perception that the situation is worsening.

"As a matter of fact, not only have we not seen the results in providing additional parking or other solutions, but we’ve actually seen parking spaces go away, whether it’s two here, four there, every so often," he said. "It’s not in vast numbers, but it adds up."

Butz said she believes the City Council is motivated to fix the issue, adding that she hasn’t seen a study as comprehensive as the one Nelson/Nygaard is undertaking. Though discontented, Shetler, too, was optimistic that solutions can be found.

"I’m happy they’re doing the survey, and I’m happy to see these guys here," he said. "The frustration is that we’ve seen other surveys and other guys studying this. I’m going to remain hopeful that there is something different. Maybe these guys are the ones that are going to come up with a general consensus of what needs to happen, then once they have a recommendation that it will go to the city and something will be done."