Park City summit reveals near-unanimous concern about community’s trajectory
The crowd at a Tuesday event that was part of an exercise designed to craft a vision for the future of Park City expressed concern about the trajectory of the community as the people at the Santy Auditorium for the second part of the Park City Future Summit were nearly unanimous in indicating they have some level of concern.
The firm tapped by City Hall to lead the visioning efforts asked the crowd a series of questions about the community, compiling the answers as they were submitted.
One of the overarching questions inquired whether someone was “concerned about the current trajectory of Park City?” The most popular answer was “very concerned,” garnering 59% toward the end of the voting. Another 40% said they were somewhat concerned, meaning 99% of the people who cast a vote were either very concerned or somewhat concerned with the community’s current trajectory.
It was an astonishingly high percentage expressing concern at a time when the municipal government itself appears to enjoy widespread support. Voters in recent elections have overwhelmingly backed the incumbents, put a member of the Park City Council into the mayor’s office and supported City Hall’s two most expensive conservation deals.
There is also an undercurrent of concern, though, about a changing community as Parkites adjust to the realignment of ownership in the ski industry, increased traffic and rising housing prices. The visioning efforts have previously highlighted some of the concerns, but the results of the question about the trajectory of Park City could be unsettling nonetheless.
Neither Future iQ, the firm hired to manage the visioning process, nor the City Hall officials at the event addressed the results in any depth. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council will eventually discuss the overall visioning results and hold more talks with rank-and-file Parkites about the findings.
The visioning exercise is the first since 2009, an 11-year stretch that saw Park City’s strong economic emergence from the depths of the recession, the sale of Park City Mountain Resort to Colorado-based Vail Resorts followed by the linking of PCMR and Canyons Resort into a single property and the sale of Deer Valley Resort to Alterra Mountain Company. The strong economy of recent years, leading to increased traffic and surging real estate prices, and the corporate control of the mountain resorts have left many worried about the long-term future of Park City as a community.
It seems almost certain the final visioning report will address those concerns in some fashion. The discussions have dwelled on topics like the affordability of Park City, social equity, innovative transportation options, regional relations, the environment, the idea of sustainable tourism and diversifying the economy from one that has relied on the related industries of tourism, real estate and construction.
Some of the other questions covered a broad range of Park City issues. The results toward the end of the voting on some of the questions included:
• 78% saying Park City should be more aggressive as it acts to achieve the ideal of “embracing bold change.” Another 15% wanted the city to proceed cautiously while 7% indicated the city is already acting to embrace bold change.
• 80% saying tourism is essential to the Park City economy while 18% said tourism is important to the economy.
• 33% saying Park City is already “suffering irrevocable damage from over-tourism,” the most popular answer. Another 29% said Park City would suffer irrevocable damage by 2025. Other answers included 14% saying irrevocable damage “never will happen,” 13% saying by 2030, and 11% saying by 2022.
• 62% saying a combination of transit hubs, dedicating lanes, a rapid bus network using vehicles powered with electricity and aerial connections is the best way to innovate in transit, given the costs involved. Another 31% wanted a new model with the use of cars severely limited. Just 6% supported widening entryways and building garages in the core of the community. A small percentage of people, approximately 1%, said the current approach works and should be left as it is today.
• 59% saying Park City should lead as regional issues are addressed. Another 38% wanted Summit County to lead. A small number of people wanted the state to lead on regional issues.
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Hotel occupancy in the Park City area during Sundance is projected to drop dramatically from a typical year as organizers shift the event online.