June 21 editorial | ParkRecord.com

June 21 editorial

Preservation advocates must speak out in shaping new guidelines

Considering what is at stake, it is disappointing that only about 20 people attended Monday’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Board (HPB).

The government-appointed panel is drafting a new set of architectural guidelines for Park City’s Historic District that will determine whether or not new construction will be allowed to overwhelm the city’s unique mining-era character.

One of the most controversial proposals targets the size of new additions at historic homes. The board has tentatively proposed capping the size of a new addition to 200 percent of the original structure. That raised the hackles among many in the audience on Monday who felt that was too restrictive.

Not surprisingly, most of the people attending the meeting had a financial stake in relaxing restrictions on building in the lucrative core of Park City. Architects, developers and builders have been keeping a close eye on the Preservation Board and many are veterans of similar debates in front of the now defunct Historic District Commission.

Unfortunately, since their profits are based, in large part, on square footage, they are much more motivated to attend hearings like the one held this week.

But residents throughout town also have a lot riding on the new Historic District guidelines albeit their interests are more aesthetic than materialistic.

Collectively, the historic commercial buildings on Main Street and the modest old homes that line Woodside, Park Avenue, Hillside and Marsac Avenue define our community. Without them Park City would be just another resort surrounded by upscale subdivisions.

The debate over the new Historic District guidelines is bound to continue over the next several weeks and builders will continue to pressure City Hall, saying that homebuyers and renters are demanding bigger properties.

But there is plenty of room for expansive homes and condominiums in other neighborhoods around the city. Those who cherish the scale and character of Old Town should raise their voices in support of rigorous restrictions within the Historic District. The HPB does not have as much clout as the old Historic District Commission and City Hall no longer has an employee dedicated to championing preservation.

It is now up to the citizens to make sure their voices aren’t drowned out by those who have a financial interest in chipping away at the rules needed to protect what is left of Park City’s heritage.

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