Park City ready to ring in new phase of Olympic talks
Park City leaders on Thursday are readying to ring in a new phase of talks about the prospects of another Winter Olympics as soon as the 2030 event.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council are scheduled to hold their first formal discussion about a future Olympics, an early but important step that could set a tone for talks in coming months as major decisions likely loom about the games.
It does not appear the elected officials on Thursday will hold a detailed discussion, but it will likely be a closely watched discussion nonetheless since Park City is expected to have a crucial role in any upcoming bid for another Olympics. The Park City area hosted upward of half of the events during the Winter Olympics in 2002 and is seen as having a similar role in a future games.
City Hall itself also held a critical role in the 2002 era, working closely with Olympic organizers, the mountain resorts and business interests like those on Main Street. Municipal officials also partnered with the state and federal governments on issues like transportation and security planning.
“It’s to give a baseline of information,” Beerman said about the discussion planned on Thursday, adding, “take the temperature of the Council.”
Beerman has been City Hall’s lead figure in the Olympic discussions. He was Park City’s representative on an exploratory committee that studied the possibility of another games and, later, recommended the state pursue an Olympics.
The mayor has consistently provided verbal updates to the other elected officials about the progress of the exploratory committee’s work, but there has not been a discussion involving the entire slate of elected officials like the one that is scheduled on Thursday.
Beerman said he wants the discussion on Thursday to start to answer community questions about another games. He said Park City in the earlier Olympic era expanded the economy and built a brand for the community as an internationally known mountain resort.
He wants to learn what could be accomplished for Park City, as a community, with a second Olympics. Beerman said the Olympics could provide an opportunity to focus on community priorities like housing, transportation and energy. He also said another Olympics in Utah could provide an opportunity to “reboot the games” in an effort to more closely align the event with the overarching goals of the Olympic movement, such as protecting the environment.
“We have a chance to really do that,” Beerman said, noting he wants input from Olympic supporters and skeptics.
There has appeared to be outward support in Park City for the Olympic efforts, driven by the community’s status as one of the nation’s top winter-sports locations and fond memories of 2002 by many. The talks moving forward, though, will likely become more difficult as City Hall and rank-and-file Parkites engage in what is expected to be a detailed look at the opportunities and impacts of another games.
The United States Olympic Committee will eventually select a city to forward to the International Olympic Committee for consideration. City Hall staffers drafted a brief report in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday, covering the efforts to date toward another Olympics and outlining the bidding process. Salt Lake City, Denver and the Reno-Lake Tahoe region of Nevada and California are the three U.S. cities that have shown interest in a possible bid.
“Park City and Utah are uniquely situated to host the first ever ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ Olympic Games by utilizing existing venues that are still active as a result of proactive planning principles and legacy foundations. A 2030 SLC Games could be a model for future organizers and help deter some (of) the wastefulness witnessed over the past decade by host communities,” the report, written by Assistant City Manager Matt Dias, says.
The elected officials and City Hall staffers on Thursday will also likely craft plans for an outreach effort meant to gather opinions from the community. Options include an open house, presentations from figures in the Olympic discussions, a stakeholder group and City Hall’s online engagement tool.
The discussion about the Olympics is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A public hearing is not planned, but the mayor said he intends to take input if there is time.
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