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Park City isn’t ‘suburbia’

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Tom Eddington Jr., the newly arrived Planning director at City Hall, reaches Park City having worked in a diverse list of places.

There was a stint in Japan, a stay in the Midwest, a stopover at Walt Disney World in Florida and a run in the gambling city of Atlantic City, N.J.

His take: there is value to a community wherever it is and whatever its business is.

"There’s certainly no such thing as a lost cause," Eddington says in an interview, as he acknowledges he is just staring to brief himself on the development and growth issues that Park City faces.

Eddington, who replaces Pat Putt as the chief of the Planning Department, is scheduled to attend his first Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, and he speaks broadly about his views about Park City’s future. He has not yet heavily researched developments that his department is considering, but he says he understands the overarching issues.

Eddington, supporting City Hall’s intentions to approach regular Parkites for wide-ranging discussions about the city’s future, says much can be garnered from that sort of exercise.

"This isn’t traditional suburbia. This isn’t traditional small town America," he says.

He is 40 years old and grew up in Springfield, Ill., leaving his hometown to pursue his career. As a public-sector planner, he helped guide downtown growth in the 1990s in South Bend, Ind., the city of Notre Dame University, and he spent three years later in that decade working in Japan.

He has also helped Walt Disney World design its landscapes, but Eddington says his experience at the Florida theme park is not relevant to his Park City position.

Eddington worked the last nine years as a consultant in Atlantic City, a seashore resort that is one of the world’s best-known gambling cities, with lavish casinos along the famous Boardwalk and gritty neighborhoods nearby.

Eddington says he assisted the Atlantic City government as it devised an overall plan for development that, among other ideas, called for the city to diversify its economy. The plan said Atlantic City should, perhaps, try to attract tourists other than gamblers. The new visitors could include beach lovers and outdoors enthusiasts, he says.

Park City officials have pursued ideas with the similar goal of drawing people to Park City besides skiers and snowboarders, and they have bid to make Park City more popular in the summer through festivals and sporting events.

Eddington says he also had a role in Atlantic City’s discussions about work force housing, another issue that Park City also grapples with. Eddington lives in a work force unit in Silver Meadows, a development in Prospector.

Meanwhile, he starts his job amid discontent in Old Town, where City Hall is considering altering the guidelines that regulate the design of houses. Architects, home designers and some homeowners are frustrated, claiming that new guidelines will be too restrictive.

Eddington says he continues to research the guidelines, but he describes Old Town as being essential to Park City. He says people associate Park City with outdoor recreation, the Sundance Film Festival and Old Town.

"I think Park City works well because it does build off its Old Town character," he says.


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