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Expert drafted for tour of NoMa

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF
Someone crosses a street in the North of Main district. In September, a nationally known expert plans to study how safe the neighborhood is for people walking and riding their bicycles. Grayson West/Park Record
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A group of Parkites plans to walk the traffic gauntlet otherwise known as Bonanza Drive next month, hoping that drivers notice them as they assess how safe the street is for pedestrians and bicycle riders.

On Sept. 19, Mark Fenton, described as a nationally recognized expert in making communities safer for walkers, will visit Park City and conduct what is being billed as a ‘walkable community audit’ in the North of Main district, centered along Bonanza Drive.

Parkites have long worried about the safety of walkers and bicyclists on roads and trail connections and the Bonanza Drive crosswalk at the Rail Trail is notorious for near misses.

People at the Fenton event plan to walk from Miners Hospital to the North of Main district via the Poison Creek trail. Once they reach Bonanza Drive, they would have to cross the street to reach the Rail Trail, Park City’s most famous trail.

"It’s going to be really interesting when they get to Bonanza and say ‘Yikes,’" says Carol Potter, the executive director of Mountain Trails Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The idea of making Park City an easier spot for walkers and bicyclists to navigate dates back years but, in 2006, there has been an organized push by regular Parkites for help from City Hall.

The Sept. 19 event, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. at Miners Hospital and feature a presentation about how a community can be made safer. At 10:15 a.m., the group is scheduled to make a 45-minute walking trip to the North of Main district, sometimes called NoMa.

Afterward, they are scheduled to return to Miners Hospital to discuss ideas for the community.

The event is scheduled as City Hall, in a budget concession made to trails supporters earlier in the year, prepares to study how to make the city safer for people not driving cars.

Jonathan Weidenhamer, a City Hall planner assisting in the efforts, says that the local government will request proposals from consultants in early September for a study addressing potential walking and bicycling improvements. The Park City Council in the spring earmarked $150,000 for the study after a group of Parkites lobbied for the research.

He says that the government will consider Fenton’s opinions as part of overall research into the topic, including the consultant study. Weidenhamer expects that several City Hall officials will participate in the walking tour.

The city plans to award a contract to a consultant on Oct. 19, with the study’s completion targeted for Feb. 1, 2007.

The government supports the efforts and officials see them as a method to reduce the number of people driving cars. Parkites frequently complain about traffic, especially along the Bonanza Drive corridor, and the government has held that, if Park City is safer for bicyclists and walkers, fewer people would drive cars.

The tour of the North of Main district, which stretches over many of the business areas in the northern part of the city, is especially intriguing as City Hall considers a wide-ranging set of changes to the development rules in the district.

The Park City Planning Commission is weighing whether the government should relax some of the rules in an effort to assist developers trying to reshape the North of Main district into a hotspot for visitors.

The city and the people with interests in the district want it to become easier for walkers.

Rodman Jordan, who has business interests in the North of Main district and is leading the efforts to redevelop the neighborhood, acknowledges that the district is now difficult for people who are not in cars. The major sidewalks are on the perimeter of the district, such as on Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive, for instance, he says.

"It’s deficient now because most of the pedestrianization is, basically, on a sidewalk system," Jordan says.

He says that that a group of North of Main businesses are crafting a plan to make the district easier to walk in, including, he says, trails, pedestrian connections to Park Meadows and a tunnel under Bonanza Drive at the Rail Trail to replace the crossing now there.

Carolyn Frankenburg, a Park Meadows resident who lobbied the City Council to allocate money for a study, says that the upcoming walking tour could make people more aware of the issue.

She predicts that Fenton, the expert, will determine that there are not viable connections between neighborhoods, commercial areas and Park City facilities.

"I think, for sure, they’re going to find out the pedestrian pathways are inadequate," Frankenburg says. "I would be really shocked if they don’t find that."


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