Park City future seen as being driven by development, climate change, ski industry volatility

The ski industry has long been critical to the Park City economy, influencing other sectors like construction and the restaurant industry as well. People involved in Park City’s visioning efforts saw volatility in the ski industry as a driver of the future of Park City.
Park Record file photo

People who were heavily involved in Park City’s efforts to craft a vision for the community’s future saw the possibility of major developments as being one of the key drivers of coming years, an acknowledgment that concern about growth remains the defining issue decades after the start of the boom years.

The visioning efforts covered a broad range of topics over the months of the work as Park City leaders and rank-and-file Parkites gathered to consider alternatives for the future. The efforts showed there is concern about growth, traffic and affordability, some of the issues that leaders over the years have attempted to address with varying degrees of success.

The work unfolded months before the spread of the novel coronavirus upended the community, but the results appear to retain relevance even after the sickness struck and seem to help chart a course of sorts for the recovery.

The key drivers outlined in a report were based on a think-tank workshop held in July. The presence of major developments on a list of key drivers is likely not a surprise since growth and related topics like traffic and the environment have been the crucial issues in Park City for so long. Key drivers are defined in the report as “events, trends, developments, catalysts or forces; that actively influence or cause change.”

But the placement of major developments on the list of key drivers also comes at a time when there is a dwindling amount of land available in the Park City limits that can accommodate large projects. The base areas at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort each hold significant development rights approved long ago. Other than the resort base areas, though, there is expected to be a limited amount of major development pursued inside the city.

The placement could signal a concern among Parkites about the possibility of large projects outside of Park City, where City Hall’s influence is finite, such as in surrounding Summit County and Wasatch County. There is the possibility of significant development in those jurisdictions, such as in the Snyderville Basin in Summit County and the area of the Jordanelle Reservoir in Wasatch County. Park City leaders remain worried about the long-term impacts of outside growth on the community since the city is seen as such an important economic catalyst for the Wasatch Back.

One of the other key drivers, labeled as “surrounding growth,” addresses the issue, noting the “impact of unmanaged growth around Park City and the intrusion of this growth on Park City.”

Other key drivers identified in the visioning efforts highlight issues that are widely discussed as part of the public discourse in Park City, from the halls of the Marsac Building to the campaign trail. They provide a list of some of the highlights of the long-running political, economic and social discussions that have unfolded throughout the modern era of Park City.

Major developments, loss of affordability, surrounding growth, transportation and climate change were identified as having the most importance.

Some of the key drivers described in the report include:

• climate change, which the report says impacts the ski industry. In a related key driver, the report notes what is seen as volatility in the ski industry. The volatility entry says ”changing weather conditions and impact on snow relating to a volatile ski industry.”

• losing socioeconomic diversity, which notes the idea of “the loss of a wide diversity of socio-economic groups in Park City.”

• losing affordability, described as the “impact of lack of affordability relating to housing and livability on the middle and working classes.”

• the perpetuation of Park City’s lifestyle values, noted as “retaining the lifestyle and ‘quality of life’ that attracted people to live in Park City.”

• impact of a community that is aging, meaning “youth out-migration and lack of affordability resulting in an aging community and the impact of this on health care and housing options.”

• danger of the idea of over tourism, explained as the “impact of too many tourists on infrastructure and quality of life for residents.”

• transportation, summarized as the “impact of traffic congestion and parking and need for innovative multi-modal transportation systems.”

• the effects a second Winter Olympics in the state would have on Park City, such as the impact on the community’s infrastructure and road network.

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