Park City residents want bold change, but survey results indicate their expectations are less optimistic
Parkites filled the Santy Auditorium Wednesday evening for the Park City Future Summit, an event designed for the community to learn about City Hall’s visioning process, and the message they sent was clear: Park City needs a bold and innovative approach if it wants to have a successful and inclusive future.
In a way it was a mixed message, however, because in addition to addressing where Parkites want Park City to be in 10 years, they also answered in an ongoing survey where they expect to end up — and those answers were diametrically opposed. Parkites who’ve filled out the survey said they want to evolve and adapt in a bold way, but said they expect the community to remain stagnant and to eventually be swallowed up by development in surrounding areas.
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman, in his closing remarks, said he was disappointed when he saw those results.
“My heart sinks when I hear that,” he said. “Because I think it betrays a lack of confidence in ourselves. All we need is focus and the will to do it.”
The two-hour summit was led by David Beurle, the CEO of Future iQ, the firm conducting the visioning on behalf of the city, and the charts that showed where Park City residents want to be and where they expect to be in the next decade came from the results of an ongoing online survey, which had 810 respondents as of Wednesday. He said the results from the survey showed broad unity among the populace.
“Park City residents share a common perspective on most of the major issues,” he said. “Traffic and transportation, as you can imagine, comes up over and over again.”
The responses in the survey, and to the questions asked during the summit, indicated Park City residents are concerned about climate change and what that will mean for the local economy, as well as about affordable housing — specifically, the number of short-term rental properties, and multimillion-dollar second homes that are empty for many weeks out of the year.
When looking at what Parkites say they want to do and how invested they are in paying for it, Beurle said he was surprised by the near complete overlap. The survey results and those in attendance Wednesday did not shy away from the potential costs of, for example, rethinking transportation or drastically reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
“It’s surprising to see that kind of consistency,” he said. “People tend to be muted in their ambition when it comes to paying for it.”
The summit at one point featured a town hall-style discussion, with four members of the community sharing their views. While those views were largely in line with the survey results, one person in particular, Angela Moschetta, said she wants to see Park City work harder to protect itself and its people.
“I think we like to pat ourselves on the back and look at this community through rose-colored glasses,” she said. “But the reality is, we are not in the driver’s seat. The resorts have completely dictated our way of life.”
Moschetta pointed to Live PC Give PC as an example. She said it’s incredible that the event drew millions in donations, and it’s wonderful that there are upward of 100 thriving nonprofits in the community.
“But I think when you take off those rose-colored glasses and look at it through a more critical lens, what you see is that we have institutionalized charitable giving,” she said. “It is not to our benefit. It’s to the benefit of the resorts.”
What Park City needs to do, Moschetta argued, is “take control of its own narrative.”
Early on in the event, Beerman took a moment to explain the thinking behind the visioning process, to thank those who are participating and to encourage more people to do so.
“We are governed by those who show up,” he said. “And in a town of 8,000 people, that is especially true.”
The visioning survey will remain open through December and is available online. A final visioning report is expected in early 2020. For more information or to take the survey, visit parkcity.org.
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The Park City lodging industry in recent weeks experienced an uptick in projected occupancy numbers during the dates of the Sundance Film Festival, but the figures remain depressed from a typical year during the largest special event on the city’s calendar.