Park City business group monitors Main Street drop-and-load program, says tows do ‘not look good’
The group representing businesses in the Main Street core is monitoring Park City’s newly introduced drop-and-load zones, indicating there have not been as many concerns as anticipated but acknowledging the towing operations necessitated when there are violations do not present a preferred image of the shopping, dining and entertainment district.
The Historic Park City Alliance was heavily involved in the discussions at City Hall that led to the introduction of the drop-and-load zones. The group is expected to be influential as Park City officials eventually review the operations. Alison Kuhlow, the executive director, said in an interview she met with City Hall officials on Monday to discuss the drop-and-load program. The program debuted in December, just before the busy holiday stretch.
“How are we making sure it’s successful,” Kuhlow said.
She said it is unclear whether the drop-and-load zones are creating more traffic on nearby streets, such as Park Avenue and Swede Alley. She also said she has not seen data showing that the program has alleviated the traffic crush.
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“Are cars able to travel the length of Main Street more quickly,” she said.
Park City leaders created a series of drop-and-load zones in the Main Street core in an effort to reduce congestion and improve safety. Vehicles must have a permit to use a drop-and-load zone after 5 p.m. and must be actively dropping people off or picking them up. The lodging and transportation industries are the primary users of the zones. It is a pilot program through March. The permits cost $200 annually.
“I don’t know if I know that, truly,” Kuhlow said when asked about the successes of the program, citing the lack of available data.
There have been numerous violations as vehicles without the permits pull into the zones. The Park City Police Department is heavily enforcing the zones. There have been a series of towed vehicles after they were left in a drop-and-load zone without the required permit. The elected officials requested a high level of enforcement at the outset.
Kuhlow noted the towing operations as she discussed the opening weeks of the program. She said a towing operation requires a traffic stoppage as the truck takes the vehicle, creating even more backups on Main Street. The operations have been highly visible as the trucks move into place steps from the sidewalk, take the vehicle and then drive away on Main Street in plain sight of the crowds.
“The towing of cars, in my mind, does not look good. It’s not the way I’d like people to see our hospitality,” she said.
Still, though, Kuhlow said she has not received complaints from Main Street businesses regarding the drop-and-load zones. She said the lack of complaints points toward Main Street businesses not seeing the program as a “major disruption.”
The drop-and-load program is among the most significant alterations to the municipal transportation and parking operations in the tightly packed Main Street core in years. Officials have been increasingly worried about the heavy traffic in that area as Park City has enjoyed a strong economy in recent years.
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Beerman said he is aware of landlords offering relief of some sort, but he also acknowledged the landlords earn a living off the rents they collect.