Park City drop-and-load zones shredded as Main Street likened to scene out of ‘Die Hard’
Was that John McClane, the heroic Bruce Willis character from the “Die Hard” movie, attempting to find a parking spot on Main Street during the holidays?
And didn’t that look like Hans Gruber, the Alan Rickman-played villain from the same 1980s movie, confronting someone in one of City Hall’s drop-and-load parking zones?
Neither were on Main Street recently, but a critic of the program on Thursday night provided some of the most pointed opposition to the controversial drop-and-load zones to date as he told Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council the shopping, dining and entertainment strip over the holidays resembled what is seen on screen in the action film.
Ashlon Smith is a driver with Uber who has lived in the Park City area for upward of 10 years and said he has a background in customer service and ensuring visitors have memorable, positive experiences in Park City. He holds one of the City Hall-issued permits required to use a drop-and-load zone.
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He contested the timing of the debut close to the holidays, one of the busiest stretches of the year in the community, and tore into the look of Main Street with the drop-and-load program in place. There has been heavy enforcement of the zones since the December debut, leading to numerous police actions or tows.
“Please consider fixing this immediately. We have stepped on ourselves and upset our guests. The Friday before Christmas reminded me of (a) scene out of a ‘Die Hard’ movie,” he said as he referred to the fictional building taken over by terrorists in the film. “… There was police lights everywhere, there was traffic cones, Chevron signs, reflective vests and lighted batons directing people everywhere, with fresh snow and tens of thousands of guests on our Main Street. And it looked exactly like shots had been fired at the Nakatomi towers.”
He acknowledged work is needed on traffic on Main Street, surrounding Old Town and wider Park City, but he said the debut of the drop-and-load program as Christmas approached “was a complete blunder.”
“The comments that I have received in driving for Uber since the rollout … have not been positive in any shape, form or fashion. They have been words such as ‘harassing,’ ‘inconvenient,’ ‘bothersome,’ ‘confusing,’ even ‘concerning,’ from our guests in our city that we depend on for tourism,” Smith said.
He also said the drop-and-load program should be “immediately canceled” or extended to more locations on Main Street.
“We need an immediate fix. We have embarrassed ourselves as a community, and we have stained first-time visits of many, many people to our area,” Smith said.
The elected officials were not scheduled to address the issue and did not respond to the comments at the meeting. It is not clear when the mayor and City Council will formally address the issue again.
The drop-and-load program, a pilot for the ski season, debuted shortly before the holidays after a City Council decision in November. The drop-and-load zones are designed to reduce the amount of congestion on and around Main Street as well as improve the safety of the street.
The drop-and-load zones require a City Hall-issued permit after 5 p.m. Vehicles in the zones must be actively dropping someone off or picking them up. The zones are located in high-traffic spots, such as outside restaurants. The lodging and transportation industries appear to be the heavy users of the drop-and-load zones.
City Hall has said the program has worked well even as the Park City Police Department has continued to log complaints, many of them involving vehicles without the permits in the zones.
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Park City has hired two deputy city managers, tapping a former high-ranking Sundance Film Festival official for one of the posts and a onetime top staffer in the Moab municipal government for the other.