Park City-funded research drives home community displeasure with traffic
Parkites see traffic and transportation as Park City’s biggest challenge over the next five to 10 years, a City Hall-hired firm that is leading the efforts to craft a community vision has found as part of its research.
And they also see transportation solutions as one of the two top opportunities, alongside strategic development, during the same period, the research found.
The results of the research are likely not surprising to many Parkites as complaints about traffic mount, particularly in the ski season, and, it seems, increasingly during other times of the year. People also continue to press for expanded transit options.
But the results also likely show there is frustration with the progress made by City Hall, as well as the County Courthouse, years after the traffic jams became prevalent during the ski season and traffic in the summer and the shoulder seasons worsened.
The lists of challenges and opportunities were two of the highlights of a Wednesday evening gathering at the Christian Center of Park City led by representatives of Future iQ, the firm hired by City Hall to lead the overall efforts, known as visioning. Approximately 25 people were in attendance on Wednesday, at some points listening to the Future iQ representatives as the information was presented and at other points engaging the presenters or each other as they discussed Park City’s future. Mayor Andy Beerman and Park City Councilor Lynn Ware Peek were in attendance, as was Matt Dias, the interim Park City manager. Erin Grady, a member of the Park City Board of Education, was also in the crowd.
The efforts are designed to create a vision for Park City that will carry the community through 2030. It is seen as a 10-year plan that will be completed in 2020. The most recent community visioning was completed in 2009, amid the effects of the recession. In the decade since, Park City has enjoyed a strong emergence from the economic downturn and a realignment of the ski industry resulted in the change of ownership at both Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. There have been widespread worries about traffic, housing affordability and the corporatization of the community in recent years.
The presenters on Wednesday showed a chart displaying a list of community challenges over the coming five to 10 years that illustrated the issues are broad, but Parkites appear especially focused on five of them. In descending order they are: traffic and transportation, managing growth, affordable housing, affordability and loss of Park City charm. Other challenges that were listed but did not garner the same level of concern include tourism, climate change, infrastructure and pollution.
The presenters, meanwhile, also showed a chart listing the opportunities during the same time period. The five top opportunities, in descending order, are: transportation solutions and strategic development in a virtual tie followed by environmental initiatives, affordable housing and tourism destination. Other opportunities that were listed include retaining Park City’s charm, economic growth, the return of the Winter Olympics and reducing the impact of tourism.
The crowd on Wednesday covered a variety of topics in their comments to the Future iQ representatives. The event touched on numerous issues instead of focusing on several, leaving limited time for debate about the individual topics.
Some spoke about what they consider to be community failures. One of the members of the crowd argued City Hall should have acquired the Treasure land overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift decades before the $64 million conservation deal was completed in the spring, saying it would have been less expensive and not required the delay of City Hall projects. Another audience member claimed City Hall did not anticipate the amount of commuter traffic there would be, saying officials did not plan for the amount of traffic there is nowadays. One of the other audience members said the municipal government provides limited information about developments during the planning stages, pointing to projects that received earlier overall approvals with those rights remaining intact through the years. Someone inquired about the vision of PCMR owner Vail Resorts, telling the crowd the Colorado-based firm has lots of influence over the future of Park City.
Steve Swanson, who lives in the Holiday Ranch neighborhood, indicated he prefers a European-style experience with vehicles kept out of the core of the community. He also mentioned concerns about the impact of Old Town residences that are offered for rent on a nightly basis, saying they are run like businesses. Daniel Lewis, an Old Town resident and a City Council candidate, said the Park City Ice Arena is the “greatest thing.”
The event on Wednesday was part of the ongoing visioning efforts. A think tank that is working on the efforts is scheduled to reconvene in November while focus groups are also planned that month. The final report is expected in early 2020.
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861 acres have been placed under a conservation easement, protecting the land from development in perpetuity.