City Council considering A-frame house preservation
September 13, 2013
The Park City Council discussed on Thursday an idea to preserve as historic sites certain A-frame-style houses that are emblematic of the town’s transition into the "ski era" in the 1960s and 1970s.
The City Council requested further study of the issue but was not scheduled to cast any votes.
"Ski era" architecture is not currently subject to historic preservation guidelines since the structures are younger than 50 years old. City Hall staffers identified the National Register of Historic Places criteria for historically significant buildings that A-frames would fall into. They stated that Park City’s A-frames are important because of their "Association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history" and because they "embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction."
The Park City Planning Department has two pending demolition applications for A-frame structures in Old Town. Though the town has expressed interest in preserving the structures in the past, the two demolition permits "[have] brought urgency to this topic," according to the staff report.
The City Council asked staffers to conduct a "Reconnaissance Level Survey" of A-frame structures in Park City. The survey will examine 158 A-frames built between 1960 and 1970.
Though City Counselor Cindy Matsumoto noted that most of the 158 "won’t qualify" for preservation, no estimate was voiced as to precisely how many of the 158 the City Council expects to qualify for protection.
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City Counselor Alex Butwinski noted that some people do not care for the A-frame "aesthetics," but said this was not an important factor in their deliberation about the structures’ historical and architectural significance. Dick Peek, another City Counselor, acknowledged the importance of the "ski era" to the town in that "Park City was born in mining and its rebirth was in skiing."
Matsumoto added that "A-frames add a great funk and history" to Park City.
The City Council considered and declined to enact a moratorium on the demolition of A-frame structures while it conducts its further study of the issue over the next several months. Several City Council members expressed concern that such a moratorium would be "too much of an infringement on property rights," as City Counselor Andy Beerman stated.
The City Council seemed favorable to enacting measures that would encourage preservation of certain A-frames on a voluntary basis. Members noted that Aspen, Colo., could offer a good model for Park City as it has made great progress in protecting its own "ski era" architecture.
Beerman disclosed that he owns an interest in one of Park City’s A-frame structures and expressed his desire to "move forward with the study as soon as possible."
Mayor Dana Williams said he was "nervous" that the town could see many more applications for A-frame demolition permits over the coming months while the City Hall study is conducted and he wanted to make clear that the City Council had not yet settled on any particular course of action.
"We want to take the time for the community to have a dialogue on this," Williams said.