Park City gathering shows broad support for a mostly car-free Main Street
Parkites and visitors, perhaps in just a matter of years, some hope, could head to a Main Street mostly free of vehicles.
The shopping, dining and entertainment strip would be largely pedestrianized, the thinking goes of many of the people who attended the recent Park City Future Summit, a gathering held at the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library as City Hall and rank-and-file Parkites continue to craft a vision for the future.
A City Hall-hired firm tapped to lead the visioning efforts asked a series of questions at the Park City Future Summit. The answers were compiled as the crowd submitted them. There were two intriguing questions regarding the future of Main Street that could ultimately draw broad interest should Park City leaders eventually consider significant changes to the operations of Main Street.
One of the questions inquired whether it would be a good idea if Main Street and other unspecified locations were made mostly free of cars, even if there could be business worries about the impacts. The results toward the end of the voting found 86% agreed it would be a good idea while the remaining 14% said it would not.
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Another question regarding the topic dealt with the timing of turning Main Street and the other unspecified places mostly car free. The most popular answer toward the end of the voting was by 2022, garnering 39%. Another 34% said by 2025 while 13% said this year. The people who said ‘Never’ accounted for 11% while 3% said by 2030.
The questions about turning Main Street into a mostly car-free road are significant at a time when there has been concern about the traffic jams in the Main Street core as Park City enjoys an economic upswing. There is concern about the backups as well as the safety of pedestrians. City Hall recently introduced a drop-and-load program along Main Street with one of the goals being reducing congestion.
Any formal talks about creating a Main Street that is mostly car free would almost certainly become sensitive as Park City leaders weigh the desire to essentially pedestrianize the street against any concerns of businesses about removing most of the traffic. While proponents could argue a Main Street that is essentially pedestrianized would be attractive to shoppers and diners, critics could seize on worries about potential customers heading elsewhere for convenient access to businesses.
Any formal talks would be expected to attract intense interest from the businesses on Main Street that would be impacted, Old Town residents whose driving routes could be altered and others.
It is likely any further talks would need to address topics like the Main Street parking spots that could be lost should the street be turned mostly car free and ideas to draw people to a street that is mostly pedestrianized. There could also be options discussed for the disabled and others who could have difficulty walking the steep road, such as the possibility of the Main Street Trolley continuing to ply the street for those with difficulties walking Main Street under the scenario of a mostly car-free street.
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“We’re kind of turning the corner … and it’s now time to maybe put out the welcome mat in a careful and thoughtful manner,” said Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau.”