Critic vies for Old Town panel
A Park City house designer who has long been critical of the City Hall rules that regulate construction in Old Town is vying for an appointment to the municipal panel that holds some say on development in the highly charged neighborhood.
Kevin King is one of four people competing for two slots on the seven-person Historic Preservation Board. The others are Ken Martz, Adam Opalek and Roger Durst. The Park City Council interviewed the candidates in late October and will likely discuss them in a closed door session this week. The appointments could be made as early as Nov. 13.
King’s interest in the panel is especially noteworthy after months of discussions between house designers, Old Town homeowners and City Hall officials about the design rules in the neighborhood. City Hall tightly controls building designs in Old Town in an effort to preserve the renowned historic district, where century-old Victorian houses are commonplace.
"I’m not the John McCain maverick. I’m not going to ruffle feathers," King said in an interview, also acknowledging that he submitted his name as a candidate to become City Hall’s Planning director before Tom Eddington Jr. was selected.
King is a well-known figure at City Hall who regularly challenges the local government. He is 44 years old, lives on Norfolk Avenue and moved to Park City in 1992. He holds an undergraduate degree in architecture from Mississippi State University, but he is not a licensed architect.
"What I do for a living lends itself to this," said King, who has worked on more than 20 projects in Old Town.
The Historic Preservation Board referees certain development disputes in Old Town, but City Councilors several years ago stripped some of its power. The board, however, remains reviled by a small group of architects and house designers. They argue that the rules that the board act under are onerous and result in poorly designed houses.
"I’m thinking there needs to be a balance. I’m looking to build bridges," King said.
King has a firebrand reputation, and he has argued against what he sees as restrictive Old Town rules. Officials in the past year have held wide-ranging discussions about development in the neighborhood. The Historic Preservation Board has recommended the City Council adopt a package of changes to the guidelines over designs.
"I can quite categorically say anyone who has practical experience of developing or building in Old Town would have great value to the Historic Preservation Board," said Peter Barnes, an architect who works in Old Town and a frequent critic of City Hall.
Barnes said the Historic Preservation Board showed weakness as it crafted the recommendations for redoing the guidelines. King, Barnes said, is enthusiastic and would force the panel into wider discussions.
"I’d love to see someone like Kevin with a little fire in the belly," Barnes said.
In his application to the City Council, King said he has "significant expertise in practical restoration/renovation/preservation" and he has "good communication skills." He said the Historic Preservation Board should be "concerned about preserving (the) character of Old Town."
"I’ve never burned any bridges with anybody. I’ve objected to the decisions," he said in an interview.
Liza Simpson, a City Councilwoman who participated in the recent interviews of the candidates, said she was "a little surprised and also pleased" with King’s application. She said anyone serving on the Historic Preservation Board must be open to opinions from others.
"Kevin can be perfectly pleasant and charming when he chooses. He is certainly passionate about the historic district," she said.
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