Park City businessman tells plaza critics to consider moving out
Blunt words highlight long-running tension between Main Street, Old Town
October 25, 2017
A businessman with holdings on lower Main Street on Tuesday told critics of plans to build a plaza in the Brew Pub lot toward the upper end of the street they should contemplate moving, an especially blunt statement that was made in front of a crowd at a Park City Council meeting that appeared to be weighted toward the plaza opposition.
Mike Sweeney's comments to Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council drew groans from some people in the audience. The Sweeney family controls the Town Lift Plaza, and Mike Sweeney has long been a proponent of boosting the business climate along Main Street.
The discussions about a Main Street plaza have drawn interest from businesses along the shopping, dining and entertainment strip as well as people who live close to the Brew Pub lot.
The businesses see a plaza as something that will enliven the upper stretch of Main Street, drawing customers up the street, while the nearby residents worry about noise and increased traffic.
"If somebody . . . really doesn't like the noise, then I think that they should really consider the only thing that they're going to be able to do is to probably move," Sweeney said.
There has been conflict between Main Street interests and Old Town residents for years as the sides attempt to balance living in the neighborhood against the buzzing nature of a busy commercial core. The statement by Sweeney, though, was unusual in its straightforwardness.
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Sweeney also said the vibrancy of Main Street and generating revenues that support the community are important. He noted the topography of Old Town as he spoke about the sound that emanates from Main Street. If the community does not understand what he considers to be the realities of the situation "Main Street won't be Main Street and Park City will not be Park City," he said.
"We're a destination resort community. That's the business that we're in . . . But if you're living next to a major noise area, which is what Park City's Main Street is, and supposed to be, then you should expect when you're here, that you're going to hear that. I live next to a freeway. I don't go complaining about the noise," Sweeney said.
The mayor responded in jest that Sweeney should consider taking a seat in the City Council chambers next to a police officer.
The Sweeney family's relationship with Old Town has frayed in recent years even though the family played a pivotal early role as Park City Mountain Resort developed the Town Lift terrain that links Main Street and the slopes. The Sweeney family and a business partner are engaged in long-running talks with City Hall about the controversial Treasure development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. Many Old Town residents oppose the plans, generating friction between the Sweeney family and people in the neighborhood that might have exacerbated the response to the comments on Tuesday.
Sweeney was one of the speakers who provided testimony as the elected officials continued to consider the details of a plaza. The mayor and City Council addressed issues like placing tight restrictions on the programming of a plaza with the possibility of loosening them later, the commercial traffic on nearby streets and the size of events that would be allowed at a plaza. The testimony tilted toward the opposition as people who live nearby the location expressed concern.
Peter Marth, who lives on Hillside Avenue, said a plaza would "forever change" the neighborhood. He said there are other infrastructure projects that are needed in Old Town. He also said he would prefer a plaza be built on Swede Alley close to the Marsac Building stairs.
"This is a tough location," he said about the Brew Pub lot.
Others who testified said the historic district is losing character, noise from a plaza would be heard in the neighborhood and, perhaps, there should be a restriction that allows only acoustic performances.
But the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents businesses on or just off Main Street, told the elected officials the primary motive of building a plaza is to create a nice attraction toward the top of the street. Michael Barille also said a plaza could relieve the pressure that events put on Main Street.
The City Council is expected to continue the discussions about a plaza later in the year.