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NoMa studied in walking tour

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The North of Main district is hardly an inviting spot for pedestrians.

Most Parkites, even Rodman Jordan, the developer leading the efforts to reshape the neighborhood, acknowledge that.

But on Tuesday, a group of Parkites walked from City Park to the district, frequently referred to as NoMa, to study how easy or difficult navigating the neighborhood is.

Led by Mark Fenton, who hosts a PBS television show, America’s Walking, and whose expertise is in gauging how friendly communities are to walkers and others who are not driving, the group considered ways the city could be better designed.

Jordan, who did not plan to walk the route but was scheduled to speak to the participants, says that Park City can make itself better for walkers and bicyclists.

"I hope there becomes kind of a community knowledge of how easily achievable walkability is in Park City," Jordan says, noting that there are not long distances to traverse between popular destinations in the city. "We have the benefit of being a boutique community. It’s quite practical and feasible to walk."

The tour was scheduled as City Hall continues to consider methods to influence people to park their cars in favor of walking, bicycling and taking public transit. The supporters say that, by doing so, there will be less traffic, which would help the environment.

For years, and especially recently, there have been complaints about the amount of traffic and, anecdotally, Parkites are convinced that the amount of traffic has quickly spiked upward.

The local government has listened to repeated complaints and during budget hearings in the spring was approached by a coalition of Parkites asking for money to study methods to make it easier for people not in cars.

The Tuesday event, which was not sponsored by City Hall but instead by Mountain Trails Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding trail networks, was not scheduled to investigate neighborhoods or issues outside of NoMa and the route to City Park.

Jon Weidenhamer, a City Hall planner assigned to walking issues, acknowledges that streets in the North of Main district are more stressed than before.

"As town’s evolved and gotten more dense, it seems like Bonanza and Kearns have become under more pressure from the automobile," he says.

Weidenhamer, who planned to walk with the group on Tuesday with other City Hall officials, says he sees the route as being adequate. However, he concedes that the traffic and development in the neighborhood is growing.

He says that City Hall has made improvements in the neighborhood, such as a flashing signal for pedestrians and bicyclists on Bonanza Drive near the Rail Trail. He says the local government has made good "initial efforts."

"It seems like we’ve got sidewalks, we’ve got intersections timed to allow pedestrians to cross," Weidenhamer says.

The local government has budgeted up to $150,000 over two years to study walking and bicycling issues and traffic. City Hall is currently seeking submittals from firms to conduct a study. They are due Sept. 28.

Weidenhamer says that private interviews with the finalists are scheduled on Oct. 10 and the Park City Council is scheduled to award a contract on Oct. 19. He says that the study is scheduled for completion Feb. 15, 2007.

Mayor Dana Williams is confident that NoMa can be reworked to be better suited for pedestrians since it is slated for a redo, which Jordan, the developer, envisions including retailers, residences and road improvements. Williams calls the neighborhood now "patchworked."

"Because of the fact so much of that area is going to be redeveloped, we have the potential here to create a very walkable community," Williams says, calling the Tuesday event a, "real important as a first step."


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