As Park City street deteriorates, neighborhood awaits major roadwork
Niels Vernegaard lives on Lowell Avenue, a little bit south of Park City Mountain Resort and on a section of the street that will be redone later in 2016.
Regardless of the inconvenience the work is expected to cause, Vernegaard is pleased City Hall is readying for the upgrades to the street. There are drainage issues along Lowell Avenue and the street has fallen into a state of disrepair, Vernegaard said Tuesday night during an open house held by City Hall as the work nears.
"It’s going to be a dirt road in another year. The pavement’s falling apart now," Vernegaard said, perusing the information presented by City Hall and consultants at the open house at the Park City Library.
There appeared to be significant support from the small crowd in attendance on Tuesday. The event drew approximately 12 people. Most appeared to either live on or close to Lowell Avenue or have property there. The event was held as part of the municipal government’s ongoing outreach regarding the reconstruction of Lowell Avenue, which is expected to be one of the major road projects of the summer in the Park City area.
The project is designed to run between the intersections with Manor Way and Empire Avenue, a stretch of road measuring approximately 2,300 feet in length. Lowell Avenue at the location is an important link between Park City Mountain Resort and Old Town, carrying drivers seeking an alternative to Park Avenue.
Park City plans to put down a new road surface and improve other infrastructure, including sewer lines, water lines and curbs and gutters. The project will include new storm drains, which City Hall says are meant to reduce the flooding risk. The crews, meanwhile, will slightly narrow the road surface, potentially by between two and three feet.
The work on Lowell Avenue is part of City Hall’s long-running efforts to upgrade neighborhood streets in Old Town. It was a pledge leaders made years ago following the heavy emphasis on work that was needed in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics. A series of Old Town roads have been improved in a similar fashion as the Lowell Avenue project since then.
Park City anticipates starting the work in early May, depending on the weather. It is expected to be completed by Oct. 15. Matt Cassel, the Park City engineer and the City Hall staffer who is leading the efforts, has said the project is estimated to cost approximately $3.7 million. The sewer and water lines are anticipated to account for $2.5 million of the total.
The people at the open house studied maps and informational boards. One of the boards explained there is a goal that access will be maintained to residences each night and on the weekends. Road closures will be minimized, the board said.
The consulting team wrote on a large map suggestions and comments made by the attendees. One of the comments indicated a concern about parked cars along Lowell Avenue sometimes blocking driveways. Another comment requested construction vehicles not be allowed to use driveways to turn around. There was a request for a stop sign at one location along Lowell Avenue while another comment mentioned trash removal. Someone broached the idea of parking at the south edge of one of the PCMR lots.
"Is there a possibility of overnight parking," was written on the map.
Patricia Kravtin, a part-time Lowell Avenue resident, said she is pleased with the project designs, saying the street is in "very substandard conditions." She described ruts, uneven surfaces and a lack of effective drainage.
Kravtin said she would like City Hall to designate the section of Lowell Avenue a zone where residential-parking permits are required, a system similar to many other streets in Old Town. She said employees at nearby businesses and others who do not live on Lowell Avenue often park on the street, performing three-point turns or pulling into driveways as they seek a parking spot. She supports the overall project but wants the parking permits considered.
Cassel said much of Lowell Avenue is included in a zone where residential-parking permits are required and City Hall is evaluating whether a zone should be extended northward. An extension could include Lowell Avenue and four other streets.
The city engineer said people at the open house he spoke to about the project had "some level of wariness and just-get-it-done attitude" about the Lowell Avenue project.
The proposed Treasure development was mentioned during the Lowell Avenue open house, but the people at the event did not appear to dwell on the controversial project.
The Treasure partnership holds development rights secured in the 1980s for a project off Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. The Treasure acreage is along the lower section of the Town Lift route.
There has been concern by residents on streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue that the traffic to and from the Treasure development will overwhelm the roads. The Treasure partnership has countered that the roads will adequately handle the projected traffic increases.
Kravtin briefly spoke about Treasure while discussing the Lowell Avenue project itself, saying the road will be "the main and primary way of access to this development." The Treasure traffic could "aggravate some of the public safety hazards," Kravtin said.
The city engineer spoke to a small group of the attendees at one point about Treasure. He spoke in broad terms that the Treasure developers need to consider Lowell Avenue issues as part of the project.
Treasure is envisioned as upward of 1 million square feet of development.
The Treasure partnership is comprised of the Sweeney family, which held the land for decades, and an investor. Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in Treasure matters, was in attendance on Tuesday, but he did not appear to engage the Lowell Avenue project team in any depth.
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The mayor of Park City in recent comments said many are upset that the Sundance Film Festival will not be held as usual this year, but he pulled back from saying everyone in the community holds that viewpoint. Mayor Andy Beerman addressed the topic at a meeting that was held on Jan. 21, the original start date of the festival.