Park City survey offers damaging reading of direction of community

Just four in ten Parkites rate course as being excellent or good

Park City winter-sports lovers, including those heading into Round Valley, shown, are enjoying the plentiful snowfall this winter, but a survey conducted on behalf of City Hall found there is concern about the overall direction of the municipality. | Park Record file photo by David Jackson
| David Jackson/Park Record

Just four in ten Parkites see the overall direction Park City is taking as being excellent or good, a survey conducted on behalf of City Hall has found, a damaging reading on community sentiment that seems to lend credence to what has appeared to be widespread angst about a range of issues like growth, traffic and affordability.

The municipal government released the results of the National Community Survey, conducted in late 2022 and early 2023, as Mayor Nann Worel and the Park City Council prepared for an annual strategic planning retreat that is scheduled this week. The survey covers a broad list of topics, but some of the questions are overarching in nature, and the one regarding the overall direction Park City is taking is especially notable since it can be seen as encompassing the entirety of the municipal government.

The survey found 41% of respondents rated the overall direction Park City is taking as excellent or good. The figure was a drop of 4 percentage points from the 45% result of the survey in 2017. Although the drop was not dramatic over the five years, the trend downward in the answers to such an important question, and the 41% result, point toward dissatisfaction among Parkites. City Hall also said the 41% result is a drop of 29 percentage points since the survey taken in 2011, which was conducted as the community was emerging from the recession of 2007-2009.

Another key question also showed deterioration since 2017. Just 56% of the people surveyed rated their overall confidence in the Park City government as being excellent or good. The number dropped 5 percentage points from the 61% in 2017.

The 2022 survey was the first since 2017. City Hall delayed conducting another survey after 2017 based on the community-wide pre-pandemic efforts to craft a vision for Park City and then the pandemic itself. The worries about Park City seemed to intensify during that five-year period. Parkites prior to the pandemic were concerned about long-running issues related to growth, including traffic and housing availability. The pandemic and then the hot economy that followed the early shutdowns were seen by many as exacerbating the situation.

The results to the questions about the overall direction of Park City and the overall confidence in the Park City government come at an intriguing political moment. Mayor Nann Worel and three of the five members of the Park City Council have been in office for just longer than one year while three seats on the City Council are on the ballot in the City Hall election in November.

The voters in the 2021 election sought change at the Marsac Building, selecting Worel over an incumbent mayor and seating two newcomers on the City Council. Another newcomer joined the City Council shortly afterward to fill the seat vacated by Worel as she ascended to the mayor’s office.

The City Council seats held by Becca Gerber, Max Doilney, and Ryan Dickey, who is serving the partial term created when Worel became the mayor, will be decided in November. Dickey has said he plans to seek a full term while the other two have not publicized their intentions regarding reelection bids.

The survey results about the overall direction of Park City and overall confidence in the municipal government seem to suggest there could be a political path for challengers in the election this year. Moreover, the 2021 City Council win by Jeremy Rubell, who was a newcomer to political circles at the outset of the campaign, illustrated that Marsac Building experience and tenure in Park City are not prerequisites for a successful campaign.

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