An improved Main Street will greet Park City visitors
Visitors are expected to arrive in Park City in droves in coming weeks as the ski season starts in earnest around the holidays.
Main Street will welcome them with a slightly changed streetscape.
There have been crews up and down the street in 2015 working on public improvements alongside the private sector projects. The City Hall-funded work this year continued the municipal government’s heavy investment on Main Street and Swede Alley.
The crews hired by City Hall have finished their work for the year. Craig Sanchez, a municipal staffer heavily involved in the Main Street work, said the projects planned in 2015 were completed in mid-November. The work started at the end of April. It was the third consecutive year of City Hall improvements along Main Street.
"From the city’s standpoint, we’re done," Sanchez said about the annual work.
The projects this year included:
The crews also completed a walkway between Main Street and Swede Alley known for a bronze sculpture of a bear. It is an important route linking Main Street and the Old Town transit center on Swede Alley.
"I think it’s a better look for both our residents and tourists. It’s a better presentation," Sanchez said, describing sections of the sidewalk as being in disrepair prior to the work.
The workers also replaced underground natural-gas lines and upgraded storm drains.
The plaza on Swede Alley has not been used for gatherings since it was created. Sanchez said there are no current plans for that sort of use, but he said there remains a possibility it could be used in some fashion other than parking during the Sundance Film Festival in January. Details were not available.
City Hall spent nearly $1.7 million on the work this year. The total included $960,000 for the sidewalks, storm drains and related work as well as $670,000 for the plaza on Swede Alley. Another approximately $50,000 was spent to finish the walkway between Main Street and Swede Alley. Most of the cost of the walkway was included in the 2014 work budget.
The Historic Park City Alliance, which represents businesses on Main Street or nearby, is the chief supporter of the work. Alison Butz, the executive director of the group, said the businesses did not encounter issues with the work this year. The Historic Park City Alliance worked closely with City Hall as the work plan was crafted.
"Main Street feels more cleaned up," Butz said.
She said the sidewalk design was meant to complement the character of the historic buildings along Main Street. Butz also noted the construction of a so-called sidewalk bulb-out outside the Egyptian Theatre. It will accommodate theater crowds and emphasizes the importance of the not-for-profit arts organization, she said.
The plaza on Swede Alley was seen as one of the critical upgrades this year. Butz acknowledged that the plaza does "dress up Swede Alley," but she said it was not a high priority for the Historic Park City Alliance since it is not designed to hold large crowds. Butz said the flow of traffic is safer in the vicinity of the plaza as a result of the modifications to layout of the parking and a crosswalk.
Butz, meanwhile, praised the completion of the Main Street-Swede Alley walkway, saying it is wider than it was prior to the work and lights installed in the walkway guide people between the transit center and Main Street.
Park City officials and Main Street leaders see the annual work as being critical in ensuring the street remains competitive with outlying shopping, dining and entertainment districts such as those at Kimball Junction. Main Street pressed for the work, eventually successfully pushing a ballot measure in 2012 that provides ongoing funding through a slight increase in a portion of sales taxes paid in Park City.
City Hall is considering plans for 2016, when work would be expected to start in the spring again. Sanchez said the tentative plan for next year includes installing new sidewalks and making infrastructure upgrades on the west side of Main Street between 4th Street and the Treasure Mountain Inn. Miners Park could be upgraded with redone restrooms and other improvements.
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Utah alcohol regulators hope to reopen the liquor store in the Main Street core within weeks. An official with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control noted the Swede Alley store’s importance to tourism.