Park City enjoyed a solid summer, but Main Street readies for a coronavirus-influenced winter
The summertime weather has been a tad warm recently in Park City but pleasant nonetheless compared to the hot temperatures elsewhere in the state.
And Main Street has been a respite for many, especially drawing large crowds on the weekends. The Sunday pedestrian zone on Main Street, debuting this year, has been popular, and numerous people have enjoyed al fresco dining.
But the weather will turn shortly, with snow sometimes arriving as early as late September, and Main Street is considering steps that can be taken to guard against a drop in business in the fall and into the ski season after at least some momentum was gained in the summer even with the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
The organization that represents the interests of Main Street businesses, the Historic Park City Alliance, has seated a group to devise ideas for the fall and the winter. The group met for the first time last week and has two more meetings scheduled in the next week.
There is limited information available about the work, but it comes at an important time for Main Street. The sickness forced an early end to the most recent ski season and many businesses on Main Street temporarily shuttered in the spring. At least one well-known business, the Main Street Deli, closed permanently. Some businesses enjoyed a comeback in the summer, but there are lingering concerns about the overall health of Main Street as the fall shoulder season approaches.
The group considering ideas for the fall and winter is expected to report to the leadership of the Historic Park City Alliance in the middle of September, at a time when the community is typically starting to prepare in earnest for the ski season. It is also a time when crowds typically begin to thin on Main Street and across Park City as family vacations end with the start of school and as the weather can become iffy.
The Historic Park City Alliance would need to then approach Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council if the ideas require government approval, like the pedestrian days did. The agenda for a recent meeting of the board of directors of the Historic Park City Alliance described the discussion as focused on “what efforts and solutions can be put in place to help businesses survive during the winter.”
Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance, said on Monday some of the issues the group will debate include the efforts to attract people to Park City in the fall and the ski season and the prospects of businesses operating outside in some fashion.
“What’s our next option? What else can we do,” Kuhlow said about the fall and the ski season, acknowledging that Main Street needs to be “adaptable to the weather.”
Although the summertime operations on Main Street have drawn lots of attention, the ski season is by a wide margin the more lucrative period for the community. There are numerous unknowns regarding the ski season, the most important being the state of the spread of the novel coronavirus as the winter arrives. The mountain resorts have not provided detailed operations plans for the ski season, and the Sundance Film Festival, an especially busy stretch of the winter, continues the planning after announcing blueprints for a scaled-back event.
Even though the illness forced an early end to the 2019-2020 ski season, there continues to be hope that the economic damage was contained since the shutdowns occurred so late in the ski season and the summer has proven stronger than many had expected.
Any upcoming talks between Main Street and City Hall about the winter will likely be more complicated than those that were held as the sides crafted the pedestrian days in the summer and fall. The Historic Park City Alliance and Park City officials would need to account for issues like increased traffic in the ski season, the need for additional parking as compared to the summer and snow removal, as examples, as they discuss the ski season.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.