Park City parking prices seem silly to some market-goers
Patrick Rice, the general manager of the No Name Saloon & Grill on Main Street, last Sunday noticed business was slow.
It was the opening day of the Park Silly Sunday Market, usually a good one for business at the establishment, but that was not the case last Sunday. Rice said it is likely Park City’s revamped paid-parking system capped the crowds on Main Street, even for the popular Silly Market.
Last Sunday was the first Silly Market held since City Hall installed an expanded paid-parking system, including increasing rates during the Silly Market. The revamped paid-parking system is meant to ensure there are spots available for paying customers after it was found Main Street employee vehicles occupied an outsized number of spaces. But it has left many on Main Street displeased, and the opening date of the Silly Market triggered another round of concerns.
“The street wasn’t near as busy,” Rice said about Sunday.
He described an example involving a group of eight motorcyclists at the No Name Saloon who said, between them, it cost $40 per hour to park on Main Street. People are spending their money to park on Main Street rather than at businesses, Rice said, adding that customers indicated they would leave Main Street earlier than usual and not spend as much money on the street as a result of the parking prices. He said the forecast for business on Sundays during the summer is “pretty grim.”
“They were pretty disappointed in it, spending 40 bucks an hour to park,” Rice said about the motorcyclists.
City Hall has set the price of Silly Market parking at $5 per hour between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. with a maximum of $18. The prices apply to Main Street, the China Bridge garage and the surface parking on Swede Alley. Parking in the China Bridge garage and the surface lots on Swede Alley was free most Sundays during the Silly Market in 2017, with a $20 charge on the Silly Market weekends of Independence Day and Labor Day.
Jenny Diersen, the special events and economic development program manager at City Hall, said officials received “constructive feedback” from Main Street businesses about the parking rates after the opening Silly Market of the season. City Hall also said the number of vehicles counted at a park-and-ride lot at Park City High School was up significantly from the first Silly Market in 2017, meaning those attendees opted for the outlying lot rather than the paid locations in the Main Street core.
Michael Barille, the executive director of a business group centered on Main Street called the Historic Park City Alliance, said he fielded concerns about the first Silly Market based on the parking, including the placement and messaging of signs meant to explain the system.
“The general impressions are that the street was less busy than it has been on comparable opening weekends,” Barille said. The Silly Market organizers reported the crowd size on the opening Sunday was up from the first event in 2017. The organizers counted 13,870 people, an increase of approximately 10 percent from the previous opening day.
Kate McChesney, the executive director of the Silly Market, said the organization received a few complaints about the parking. Some misunderstood the parking caps while another was unhappy with the price, she said. McChesney said the organizers updated an email message to Silly Market-goers to inform them of the paid-parking system in the Main Street core.
“It’s not Park Silly making the call. It’s Park City Municipal,” she said, adding, “I don’t want people to blame us when they get irritated.”
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.