Park City business group proposes mostly pedestrianizing Main Street once weekly
A largely vehicle-free Main Street.
Pedestrians strolling on the sidewalks and the blacktop.
Space for social distancing along the shopping, dining and entertainment strip.
As Park City prepares for what is expected to be a challenging tourism summer amid concerns about the novel coronavirus, the group that represents businesses along Main Street or just off the street is polling its membership about a concept that calls for a radical change to the operations of Main Street for the summer.
The Historic Park City Alliance has crafted an idea to mostly pedestrianize Main Street one day each week. The organization sees a series of benefits with the concept as part of an overall plan to reignite the Main Street core after the sharp declines since the March shutdowns that were designed to halt the spread of the sickness. Numerous businesses were closed and those that were open generally suffered a steep drop in sales.
There has been community chatter regarding the concept of pedestrianizing Main Street recently, but it was not until this week that the influential Historic Park City Alliance put an idea to the membership.
“Main Street’s economy is fragile right now,” said Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance and a key figure in drafting the organization’s response to the business conditions.
Kuhlow described the pedestrianization concept as involving one day a week, likely Sunday or Monday, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. A Main Street closure in favor of a pedestrian zone would run between the Brew Pub lot and Heber Avenue with another pedestrian stretch running between Heber Avenue and 9th Street. The two stretches account for nearly the whole commercial section of Main Street. Heber Avenue, an important east-west route crossing Main Street, would remain open to traffic.
Kuhlow said the concept would provide more space for pedestrians since the sidewalks are seen as narrow, especially at a time of social distancing. She said people visiting Main Street would be more comfortable with the additional space to walk.
The concept also calls for some sort of transit option that would take people to the top and bottom of Main Street, running a route that includes the trolley turnaround at the north end of the street, 9th Street, Swede Alley, the Brew Pub lot, Park Avenue and Heber Avenue. The transit option would be seen as something that would ensure Main Street is accessible to those with difficulty walking to the top of Main Street.
The Historic Park City Alliance put the concept to the membership of approximately 250 businesses on Wednesday. The results of a straw poll were not available at the end of the workweek. If the membership desires to pursue the concept, the Historic Park City Alliance leadership would approach Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council. The elected officials would be required to approve any plans like the ones under consideration. The sides at that point would hold more detailed discussions about the concept, such as possibilities for sidewalk sales and dining options on the street.
Kuhlow said the Historic Park City Alliance would like to start the pedestrianization days by the middle of June and extend them through the end of the summer if the concept is supported. She said the cost to Park City taxpayers is projected to be minimal and include foregone paid-parking revenues on the pedestrian days.
The elected officials would likely spend significant time on the concept before a decision is made since pedestrianizing Main Street, even for just six hours one day each week, would have broad ramifications for the community. They would likely heavily debate the impacts on driving routes should Main Street be pedestrianized, including whether the closure would force traffic onto neighborhood streets in surrounding Old Town. They would also likely seek information about any activities planned along Main Street that would attract people on the days of the closures.
The concept was crafted in the weeks before the traditional start of the summer-tourism season in June. It is expected to be a difficult summer in Park City with concerns about the sickness continuing and the cancellation of major events on Main Street like the Park Silly Sunday Market and the Tour of Utah bicycling race.
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The artist from Vineyard who created the mural traveled to Park City again last weekend to repair it, tweak the image and leave a message for the community on the street.