As Sundance storm nears, Park City deals with a blizzard of parking issues
Some of the snow from the relentless storm that hit Park City around Christmastime remains piled on the edge of streets.
And a storm of another sort arrives on Thursday with the opening of the Sundance Film Festival and Slamdance.
Park City crews remained busy in the past week clearing snow that had earlier been pushed to the side of the road. The snow-removal operations in Park City start with clearing the roads during a snowstorm. If a storm is bad enough, like the one that struck during the holidays, the crews return to streets that had been cleared to widen the available lane surface by moving the snow to the side or hauling the snow to a storage location along S.R. 248.
Parked cars are one of the worst hindrances to the operations, officials have long said. Parking is sometimes temporarily prohibited on streets where the snow-removal crews are working. There have been numerous problematic cars parked in locations where the snow-removal crews are working, Park City Police Department logs have shown in the time since the snowstorm.
The parking issues continued this week, attracting police attention as the snow-removal crews were preparing for their operations. Early in the afternoon on Wednesday, a police officer was on Poison Creek Lane, a small street in Prospector, where a Public Utilities Department crew was working. Street parking was barricaded and a sign warned drivers not to park there, indicating that vehicles could be towed. The Police Department put orange warning notices on vehicles that were parked on Poison Creek Lane informing drivers not to park there.
The work would be underway at any point in the winter after such a large snowstorm, but there seems to be urgency with the fast-approaching festival. Sundance starts on Thursday and runs until Jan. 31. Park City is typically jammed during the festival as large crowds of film fans flock to the city alongside the celebrities, industry figures and corporate interests.
Traffic is usually some of the worst of the year and the crowds overwhelm the available parking in Old Town and elsewhere.
"Parking is tight in Park City in the normal circumstances," Phil Kirk, a police captain, said.
Kirk said the Police Department and the Public Utilities Department, which is the successor to the Public Works Department, are partnering as the work continues. The police attempt to clear cars from the sides of the roads as the snow-removal crews prepare to move onto a street.
The goal is to make as many parking spots available as possible prior to the opening of Sundance and to make room on the sides of the road to allow traffic to easily pass in both directions, he said. Bus routes are especially critical to the overall operations during Sundance, when both a festival shuttle and the normal City Hall buses are running.
The work on Poison Creek Lane on Wednesday was just outside the Park City Marriott, the location of Sundance’s festival headquarters. Prospector was the focus over the past week while Old Town and the Park Avenue corridor will be stressed next week, Kirk said.
There were numerous parking issues in various locations in the period between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, Police Department logs showed. Kirk said the problem vehicles generally were found to be hindering the snow-removal crews.
Over the course of nearly an hour on the morning of Jan. 8, the Police Department reported 12 parking issues, including on Main Street, Poison Creek Lane and Prospector Avenue, as an example. There were parking issues reported on Cooke Drive, Park Avenue, Lowell Avenue and Doc Holliday Drive last week as well. Over a 37-minute span in the overnight hours of Jan. 8, starting at 3:39 a.m., four vehicles were reported to have been impounded on Swede Alley, followed by another report of an impound later that morning on Marsac Avenue. Empire Avenue, meanwhile, was a problem on the morning of Jan. 4, when three problems were reported on a two-block stretch of the street over 19 minutes.
Warnings were issued in nearly all of the cases, Kirk said. He said he left approximately 35 warnings on vehicles by midweek.
"I don’t like to cause people hardship, the financial and hassle, of towing their vehicle," Kirk said.
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The Park City Ice Arena is expected to temporarily close later in 2021 to allow crews to replace the ice surface and perform other maintenance work, one of a series of projects City Hall plans to outline at an upcoming open house. It will be an in-person event.