More Dogs on Main
February 17, 2012
The news this week that state and local officials have formed a committee to explore another Olympic bid was hardly unexpected. It’s exciting just the same. The idea is to get ready for a bid to host the games in 2022 or 2026. Those sound like a long time away. The reality is that the process takes that long. Even with all the facilities more or less open for business, 10 years is not a lot of lead time on something that big. But I’m all for it.
That’s a complete turnaround for me. Back in the 1990s, when Salt Lake and Park City were hoping to get the 1998 Games and, later, the 2002 bid, I was dead set against it. I was afraid that it would set off an orgy of ridiculous, unsustainable growth that would change the face of quaint little Park City forever.
Well, I’m sure glad that didn’t happen. We had our development binge, and the results were actually worse than I had feared, but the Olympics didn’t have much to do with it. Our real-estate madness had more to do with national markets, choking smog in Salt Lake, cheap mortgage money and the general housing bubble than the fact that we had hosted the Olympics. It would have happened anyway.
But the Olympic experience was amazing, and one that I’d love to have again. When reminiscing with friends, there is one constant theme that took me by surprise. Nobody remembers the events (other than relatives of competitors). The competition was irrelevant for most of us. What we remember was connecting with people from all over the world on a very immediate and intimate level.
One of my best memories was helping a couple from Chicago find lodging. They had watched the opening ceremony on TV at home, then decided it was too cool and too close to miss. So they loaded up the car and drove west with no better plan than that. They got off I-80 at Kimball Junction, found tickets to the ski jumping in the parking lot, and watched the event. Then they came to the visitor information booth to find a room. It was already dark. I was able to get them nice rooms at bargain prices as long as they would change hotels every day. They picked up an odd room here or there and managed to spend a week without sleeping in the car.
A similar thing was a family that had come to Park City in a motor home with two Great Danes. They wanted suggestions on where to camp and where they could take the dogs cross-country skiing. It turns out they had stumbled into exactly where I would have recommended they set up camp about a half mile from my house.
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I’ve still got a bunch of Olympic memorabilia stuck on the wall in the living room. Host the Games again in 2022? Bring it on. Why not 2018?
On other fronts, I was sort of stunned by the photos of the proposed addition to the Kimball Art Center. As a certified non-artist with terribly utilitarian tastes, I had only one question about it: "What the %^$#?" I’m sure the design is, as we say around here, "world class." The architects are from Denmark, and you know they are good because in the photo they were all wearing their best Sundance black. But the design looks like a Viking ship caught in a tsunami and deposited on the roof of the old Ely Garage building. They claim it looks like the Coalition Building. Maybe if you’ve been into the lutefisk.
The city will be equally challenged by its request for proposals to install some kind of public art in front of the new and pretentiously named Municipal Athletic and Recreation Center the MARC. They have set aside "up to" $84,000 for a suitably tasteful and durable hunk of metal to go in front of that building. In the overall scheme of things, and given the cost of the MARC itself (a topic for another column someday), $84,000 isn’t all that significant. We have single-family houses in Park City that pay that much in property taxes annually. On the other hand, it’s about 115 percent of the median household income for Summit County.
I suspect that each artist bidding on the deal will find a way to spend exactly $84,000, because spending "only" $20,000 would result in cheap, tacky-looking public art, and the kids using the pool would be scarred for life.
I don’t live in the city so I don’t pay city taxes. It’s really none of my business. But sometimes I can’t help wondering when enough is enough around here.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column for 25 years.