Park City official saw June 1 as crucial date in recovery, and ‘hoped-for path’ exceeded
It was two and a half months ago when Park City was sent reeling as the novel coronavirus spread.
Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort ended their ski seasons early, and the community’s resort-driven economy had essentially shuttered. Businesses of all sorts were worried. City Hall expressed concern about the abrupt drop in economic activity and the potential budgetary impacts.
A member of the Park City Council, Tim Henney, toward the end of March made public remarks regarding the state of the community’s economy that, two months later, remain noteworthy as Park City begins to emerge from what amounted to a shutdown of the economy.
Henney in an online event hosted by City Hall in late March pointed to June 1 as a crucial date in the economic recovery. During the online event, he described June 1, which is Monday, as “really the tipping point on this whole thing.” He spoke about the difference in the impacts to the community should the economic damage be contained to April and May, a slow stretch of the year anyway, as compared to the losses extending into the busy summer.
“For me, we need to see some positive light at the end of the tunnel on June 1. If we’re not seeing that on June 1, we’ve got a whole different scenario,” Henney said at the time.
Shortly after Henney’s comments in March, the summer-tourism season took additional hits. The Tour of Utah bicycling race was canceled within days of Henney’s statements and, several weeks later, the Park Silly Sunday Market announced it would not be held in 2020. The Tour of Utah is one of the largest one-day events of the year in Park City while the Silly Market normally draws crowds to Main Street weekly in the summer and fall. The two cancellations seemed to be dispiriting as Parkites began looking to a summer recovery.
Henney, though, said in an interview this week he has seen significant progress since his statement in March, describing the June 1 date he identified as a personal assessment rather than one based on certain metrics. After the event cancellations, he said this week, it did not appear there “would be light at the end of the tunnel.” Business was slow, leading to further worries about City Hall tax receipts, he said of the spring.
“My hoped-for path has been exceeded in a positive way,” Henney said this week, explaining there is a chance sales-tax numbers may have already reached the bottom.
Henney acknowledged there is still “incredible hardship” in the business community and the loss of the special events exacerbates the troubles, but he noted the recent Summit County move to the yellow phase of the response to the coronavirus, which eases some restrictions and allows up to 50 people at private gatherings.
When he made the March statement, Henney said, he did not anticipate Summit County would move to the yellow phase so quickly. It is a “better position than I thought we were going to be in,” he said. Henney credited the area’s social-distancing efforts and said the people of Park City and the county have been diligent.
“We can have a different kind of summer season,” Henney said.
Henney also described Main Street as having been busy recently. It is a “positive sign,” he said, contrasting the scene on the shopping, dining and entrainment strip to the difficult days of the shutdown. He said Main Street has been “much different” than some in the spring expected.
“I think there’s a higher degree of hope than there was six weeks ago,” Henney said.
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