Park City leaders hear scattered talk from Olympic naysayers
The leadership of Park City appears ready to carry the torch toward a bid for another Winter Olympics.
But it is not known whether there are naysayers in the community who may want the flame extinguished long before an opening ceremonies would be held.
Mayor Andy Beerman, the Park City Council and City Hall staffers recently held their first formal discussion about the prospects of Salt Lake City and the wider Olympic region attempting to host another games, perhaps as early as the 2030 event.
The elected officials covered broad issues at the recent meeting but did not delve into the details that are expected to be debated in coming months. One of the topics broached at the recent meeting, though, could become especially intriguing as the talks within the community widen. It centers on the question of what level of support there is among rank-and-file Parkites for another Olympics.
The Utah Exploratory Committee, the group that recommended another Olympic bid, last fall commissioned a survey that found 89 percent of the people polled backed an attempt to secure another games. It is not known how many of the people were from Park City, though.
The mayor and City Council saw the recent meeting as the beginning of a dialogue about the games, and they indicated there will be numerous opportunities for Parkites to offer opinions about a bid.
One of the elected officials, City Councilor Tim Henney, was especially interested in City Hall gathering opinions about the Olympics. He told the others he anticipates the possibility of resistance, saying he had heard what he considered to be “legitimate concern” about an Olympic effort.
Henney in an interview addressed the possibility of opposition as the discussions continue. He said he has talked to a few people he anticipated would support an Olympic bid who instead expressed concern. He declined to identify the people he has spoken to but said they are longtime Parkites who he considers to be influential in the community.
“My survey sample is so small that it’s not a lot to go on,” Henney said.
He said the people with concerns have outlined worries about an Olympics’ impact on the growth pressures of the Park City area as well as the pressure put on the community by the busy special-events calendar. An Olympics could also expand the pressures of the free market on Park City, they have told Henney, he said.
“Another Olympics would be hard for them to embrace,” Henney said.
Henney, though, said he anticipates there will be tremendous support in the community for an Olympic bid. As a Park City resident, he said, he backs the efforts. As a City Councilor, though, Henney said he will withhold an opinion until leaders receive community input. Henney at the recent meeting said he wants City Hall to gauge the community support for an Olympic bid shortly. The timeline is important since the United States Olympic Committee later in the year, possibly in the fall, could select an American city to forward to the International Olympic Committee as a candidate for the games in 2030. Denver and the Reno-Lake Tahoe area of Nevada and California are also interested. It is not clear what sort of timing City Hall itself envisions, but officials anticipate providing a variety of opportunities to engage the community.
Many Parkites who lived locally during the Winter Olympics in 2002 recall that time fondly as they talk about the pride in the community of that era, the athletic accomplishments and the international camaraderie. Others, though, recall the hassles of everyday life in Park City during the Olympics and the scattered economic benefits of the games. Upward of half of the competitions were held in and around Park City during the Olympics in 2002, and the backers of another bid envision the community having a similar role in a second games.
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