Park City activist worries Olympics could exacerbate issues like housing, overdevelopment

Rich Wyman’s comments illustrate at least some deep-rooted concern in community about a Games

A sculpture along S.R. 224 in Park City commemorates the community’s role during the 2002 Winter Olympics, one of the visible reminders of the games of that year.
Park Record file photo

A longtime Park City activist on Thursday expressed worries that another Winter Olympics could exacerbate some of the issues the community as of today struggles to address, indicating the Games of 2002 already altered the course of the city.

Rich Wyman’s comments, made at a Park City Council meeting, were some of the only public statements in recent months addressing concerns about the efforts to stage a second Games in Salt Lake City and the Olympic region.

Wyman, a musician, told Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council the Games in 2002 were “amazing” and he performed an average of more than one concert each day of the Olympics. But he also said the Games that year were responsible for shifting the course of the city.

“When did Park City go from what it was to what it is now. … Without even hesitating, it was the Olympics, good or bad, changed Park City forever,” he said.

Wyman said leaders could possibly “err on the side of caution” regarding the discussions about a second Games.

“Maybe you also think about all the problems that came with the Olympics — affordable housing, overdevelopment. All of a sudden … the magnifying glass globally was put on Park City. And if we get the Olympics again, it’s going to happen again. So there’s going to be a lot of problems that are caused by that kind of scrutiny, that kind of pressure, those kinds of economics, that kind of development,” he said.

He added: “While we’re working for the buildup, maybe we ought to also start talking about how we’re going to deal with some of the problems that come with the Olympics.”

Salt Lake City and the wider Olympic region was selected to bid for a future Olympics, with the Games of 2030 or 2034 the likely target. It is expected the bid efforts will intensify after the close of this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, but it is not clear when the International Olympic Committee intends to select the host cities for 2030 and 2034.

Park City is a key element of the Salt Lake City bid. Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park are identified as major competition venues, as was the case in the Games of 2002. Main Street would be expected to be one of the top celebration zones, a role it played in 2002, and the Park City area transportation infrastructure would be crucial to the overall plans.

There has appeared to be widespread support in Park City and surrounding Summit County for a second Games. Wyman’s comments on Thursday were some of the first deep-rooted concerns expressed in a setting like a City Council meeting.

The elected officials did not respond in any depth to Wyman. It is expected City Hall will eventually hold public forums of some sort regarding the Olympic bid once there is further movement. The discussions at that point would likely broaden to include a range of topics and interest groups in the Park City area.

The mayor holds a key role in the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games that is bidding for an Olympics. Beerman on Thursday provided an update about the bidding, saying the efforts “are going to start moving very quickly after this summer’s Games in Japan in terms of potential for a bid.”

The comments by Wyman were the second he has made at a City Hall meeting in the last year involving the Olympic efforts. Wyman last summer mentioned a future Olympics as he criticized the plans for a major development at the PCMR base area, telling the Park City Planning Commission the proposed project should be world class with the possibility of another Olympics being held locally.

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