Local leaders bring home ideas from Colorado after 33rd annual City Tour
Dozens of area leaders returned safe and sound from the annual City Tour on Sunday, having visited three Colorado communities seeking inspiration and novel solutions to challenges facing the greater Park City community.
Ideas that started on these tours have influenced programs from recycling to affordable housing to public art to downtown revitalization and open space, said Myles Rademan, City Tour founder and organizer.
“The City Tour is a small attempt at cross fertilization,” Rademan said. “Each of these things have come from somewhere else or from people who have moved here from somewhere else.”
But Rademan, who is also the founder of the long-running Park City Leadership program, thinks the most important aspect that comes out of these trips is the community- and relationship-building that occurs among area leaders who grow to know each other well after spending long hours together on buses, at meetings and dinners.
The trips average 65-70 participants — this year, 63 — and Rademan said he endeavors to keep costs down so a broad cross-section of the community can attend. Attendees on this year’s tour included the Park City mayor, members of the Summit County and Park City councils and local government staff members, but also members of Leadership Park City, who list professions ranging from outdoor guide and artist to ski instructor to rancher on the tour’s briefing material.
The tour stopped in Crested Butte, Montrose and Grand Junction, all cities in Colorado, and participants met with representatives from local governments and nonprofits and toured various sites.
Rademan said he chooses destination communities like ski towns and college towns that deal with issues also faced by Park City and Summit County.
“A beach town, college town, ski town … all facing the gentrification conundrum,” Rademan said. “You need it, in a sense, because of the economy, but it creates traffic issues, affordability issues. It’s interesting to see how every community is grappling with the same issues — some more successfully than others.”
County Councilor Kim Carson has gone on about a half dozen of these trips. She said she finds them regenerative and enjoys talking with others about how they perceive what they’ve seen.
“I really enjoy getting to meet the community members that are part of leadership class — we have conversations about all kinds of things,” Carson said.
She said the trips also provide the opportunity to help others understand what local government can and cannot do and how the County Council fits in with Park City, the region and the state.
In County Council meetings, Carson has mentioned a tool used in Aspen, Colorado, to measure the impacts of development by converting the square footage of a building into the number of full-time employees that would be needed to provide services for it. That’s something she learned on a City Tour, she said.
Other imports include the idea to add 1 percent to costs for county buildings to be used for public art and different ways to manage bike share programs and transportation issues.
County Councilor Glenn Wright said his biggest takeaways from this trip were the opportunities that come from regulating nightly rentals, like AirBnBs, and the benefits of finding regional solutions to common problems.
Wright and Carson said they’d like the county to regulate nightly rentals but the ability to do so has been limited by the state Legislature.
Carson said nightly rentals have eaten into the apartment market and such properties often don’t pay taxes, which are used to mitigate the impacts of short-term visitors. When many apartments in an area are rented to visitors, it can threaten the vitality of the neighborhood and its sense of community.
Crested Butte limits nightly rentals to certain zones, Carson said, and caps the number of nightly rentals at 30 percent of the units within those zones.
As for regional coordination, Wright said the communities they visited on the tour worked well together, perhaps because of their relative isolation from other areas. That’s something he’d like to emulate here.
“A lot of issues — transportation, affordable housing, the whole planning issue — we can do a lot better as a region if the entire Wasatch Back can get together,” Wright said.
He said coordinating around transportation is a likely first step in that effort, and one that highlights the interconnectedness of the region.
Rademan said he will synthesize comments about what participants learned on the tour — and photos they took — into a presentation he’ll give to the Park City Council. He said the goal is to take ideas that inspired participants and find ways to tailor them to this community.
“When you see a good idea somewhere else, you can’t just parachute it into our town, it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “You see the idea — that’s what leadership is about — you take the bull by the horns, you start the effort to do it.”
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