Park City mayor sees coronavirus crisis as a ‘moment to catch our breath’ and consider future
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman on Thursday evening delivered his broadest comments to date about the spread of the novel coronavirus and the impacts locally, saying it could be a lengthy stretch before the issue is resolved, Park City has been shown to be a tight-knit community and that the crisis offers an opportunity to mull the future.
Beerman spoke during a Park City Council meeting at the Marsac Building that was held with just a small audience as attendance was restricted in an effort to help slow the spread of the virus. The first-term mayor has a key role in the City Hall response, but he has made limited public statements in the last week. The City Council meeting on Thursday was the first since the crisis deepened locally in the past week as coronavirus cases mounted and economic activity in Park City collapsed with the closures on the mountain resorts.
Beerman said serious actions are needed to reduce the chance of the coronavirus spreading and begin moving toward normalcy. He recommended “we all begin preparing for the long haul” as he said conveniences could need to be given up for months rather than weeks.
“This is something we need to mentally prepare ourselves to be on board for the long haul and find ways to discipline ourselves and find new ways to interact and be happy,” the mayor said.
Beerman said he has renewed faith in the people, saying there has been lots of kindness displayed. He said the local government is operating as he praised the work of Park City Manager Matt Dias and Richard Bullough, the Summit County health director. He said the days of the crisis are “strange and unprecedented times,” saying the closest comparison is the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
“This is the first crisis I’ve ever seen where we’re limiting social interaction and trying to navigate together, but apart,” Beerman said.
He said there will eventually be discussions about the impacts on business and plans to boost the local economy. An economic resiliency task force was formed, he said.
“Right now we’re playing triage. First comes health and human safety. That’s what we’re going to be focused on the next few weeks. But once we get through this period of crisis, we will be equally as diligent about rebuilding our economy and figuring out how to get this town back on its feet,” he said.
Beerman also couched the issue in terms of the wide-ranging discussions recently held as the community crafted a vision for the future. He said Parkites wanted the city to slow down, a reference to the frenetic years of growth. Beerman said some once joked about taking Park City back to decades past, prior to the growth years that started in earnest in the 1990s.
“This is maybe a moment where we get a glimpse of what town used to look like, before we were booming, economically, before we were what we’ve become today. And we’re going to have a lot of time to ponder this. But my advice is that we should all take a deep breath, do so at least 6 feet away from your peers, but take a deep breath, soak it up, get caught up on all the things we haven’t done in life and reflect,” Beerman said.
The mayor continued that people in Park City have a chance to consider the future as the community emerges from the crisis.
“A month ago, it felt like things were racing out of control, and now we have a moment to catch our breath, to think about it. And while we’re hunkered down and you have a lot of time to ponder, I would encourage everyone to start thinking about what they want things to look like when we reboot. Because soon enough we’ll be rebooting and rebuilding, and this is always an opportunity. When you have a setback like this, it’s a time to rethink how you want to behave, what you want to do, what your priorities are going to be and build on those,” he said.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.