Park City turns Main Street into a pedestrian zone on Sunday
Park City on Sunday hopes to take a step, perhaps many steps, toward rebuilding the local economy after the spread of the novel coronavirus wrecked the end of the ski season and the spring.
City Hall is slated to largely pedestrianize Main Street as part of a weekly program that launches on Sunday and is scheduled to last until early September. It is an important move that was sought by the Main Street businesses and then endorsed by Park City’s elected officials as part of the wide-ranging efforts to reignite sales on the shopping, dining and entertainment strip as well as the broader business community.
The Historic Park City Alliance, the group that represents the interests of businesses on or just off Main Street, and Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council reached an agreement in May to create the pedestrian zone. The sides see a largely pedestrianized Main Street as something that will attract customers in an era of social distancing. They say there will be more space than there is on the Main Street sidewalks and a vehicle-free zone will offer a more inviting atmosphere.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Alison Kuhlow, the executive director of the Historic Park City Alliance and one of the key figures in crafting the plan. “It’s just something different.”
The businesses will be allowed to have a presence on the street in front of their places, and there are expected to be sidewalk sales and dining on the asphalt. Kuhlow predicts there will be a “good number” of businesses operating outside on Sunday and anticipates there will be additional outside operations as early as the following Sunday. Kuhlow said she is optimistic for a bump in sales on Sunday, perhaps by 10% overall as compared to Saturday.
The closure runs from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays. The closure will be split into two sections, one between the Brew Pub lot and Heber Avenue and the other between Heber Avenue and 9th Street. The two stretches essentially cover most of the Main Street business district. The cross streets of Heber Avenue and 9th Street will remain open to traffic. Swede Alley will also be open to drivers. The pedestrian zone will be marked with signs, barricades and steel posts known as bollards.
Free parking will be available on Swede Alley and in the China Bridge garage. Officials want drivers to approach the Main Street core via Deer Valley Drive. There is concern in the Old Town neighborhood surrounding Main Street that the pedestrian zone will force traffic onto streets like Park Avenue. Jenny Diersen, the economic development program manager at City Hall, said signs will be posted directing traffic toward Deer Valley Drive. She said officials hope the people headed to Main Street will respect the neighborhood and noted the resident-only parking restrictions in Old Town will be enforced with the possibility of stricter enforcement later if there are issues.
The businesses that want to sell wares or serve food on the sidewalk in front of their places or the space on the street outside their locations that would otherwise be used for parking must submit an application to City Hall for each Sunday. The municipal staffers will review the applications weekly.
Officials strongly encourage people in the pedestrian zone to wear masks and practice social distancing. There will be sanitizer available for the crowds.
The pedestrian zone on Main Street on Sundays is one of the notable points in the wider recovery plans. Main Street has appeared to have drawn solid crowds in the last several weeks, but there remains concern about sales through the summer. The weekly Park Silly Sunday Market and the Tour of Utah bicycling race, both drawing large crowds to Main Street, were canceled in 2020 based on the concerns about the coronavirus. The loss of the events left broad concerns about Main Street’s summer business, one of the factors leading to the talks about the pedestrian days.
City Hall only occasionally allows for the pedestrianization of Main Street, notably during the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival in late July or early August. The Silly Market, meanwhile, closes Main Street north of Heber Avenue. The Sunday pedestrian days this year will be the most extensive closure of Main Street, though, since the 2002 Winter Olympics. City Hall and Games organizers in 2002 created a celebration zone along Main Street for the duration of the Olympics.
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A Park City business group said the municipal government moved forward with the works without gathering opinions from the organization.