Park City business group describes Main Street rift regarding pedestrian days
Some like the additional space while others are worried about lost parking
If Park City closes Main Street to cars on Sundays, alongside the Park Silly Sunday Market, shoppers and diners might make their way up the shopping, dining and entertainment strip, one line of thinking goes.
Another thought, though, holds that a Main Street closure would reduce the availability of parking.
The Historic Park City Alliance, a group that represents the interests of businesses in the Main Street core, has published an intriguing compilation summarizing some of the key arguments regarding the possibility of creating a pedestrian zone on Sundays in 2021 that would be held in conjunction with the Silly Market.
Park City in 2020 debuted a weekly pedestrian zone on Main Street as a key step in reigniting business after the spring shutdowns in an effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The car-free space created room for social distancing and allowed businesses to sell some goods outside. The Silly Market by then had canceled the 2020 season out of concern for the sickness.
The organizers of the Silly Market intend to return to Main Street in 2021, prompting early discussions about the future of the pedestrian days. The Silly Market is centered on lower Main Street with certain activities on the upper section of the street while the pedestrian days covered the length of the commercial district.
The traditional Silly Market closure involves the section of Main Street north of the Heber Avenue intersection. A closure on that section of Main Street is seen as an easier logistical task than a full closure like those on the pedestrian days in 2020. The closure on the pedestrian days last year was the most ambitious since City Hall turned Main Street into a pedestrian-only celebration zone throughout the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The Historic Park City Alliance is conducting a survey regarding the pedestrian days, called Car-Free Sundays, and outlined some of the arguments for the pedestrian days and some of those against the days. The arguments were made by unidentified businesses that are involved in the Historic Park City Alliance.
The arguments offer insight into the wide variety of opinions about the pedestrian days in the period before an important round of discussions is expected to unfold among the Silly Market, Main Street and City Hall. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council are expected to address the issue in the coming months, as plans are finalized for the summer. The Silly Market is scheduled to open on June 6.
The arguments in favor of the pedestrian days occurring at the same time as the Silly Market, referred to as “PSSM,” as outlined by the Historic Park City Alliance, are:
• “Adding Car-Free Sundays to Park Silly Sunday Market Sundays would draw patrons up Main Street. There has often been criticism that upper Main Street misses out on PSSM traffic.”
• “Merchants are able to highlight their merchandise on the street, making it more accessible to those visiting the area for PSSM.”
• “Closing Main Street provides more space for pedestrians and guests.”
• “Closing Main Street allows restaurants and bars (South of Heber Avenue) to increase their dining capacity, which has been severely limited during the pandemic.”
The arguments in opposition, also as outlined by the Historic Park City Alliance, are:
• “China Bridge Parking Garage reaches capacity on Park Silly Sunday Market Days in previous years and China Bridge Parking Garage filled with vehicles on Car-Free Sundays during 2020.”
• “Closing the entirety of Main Street reduces the parking capacity in the area by 175 spaces.”
• “Once parking fills in Old Town, customers visiting Main Street, either for a short trip or day excursion will need to take public transit to the area.”
• “Car-Free Sundays did not benefit all merchants on Main Street. Further closure will continue to hurt these establishments.”
The Historic Park City Alliance said in an introduction to the survey the pedestrian days are under consideration from June until September, indicating the weather creates unknowns in May as well as October.
The survey is scheduled to close on Sunday and was distributed to 216 businesses in the Main Street core. The Historic Park City Alliance will review the results with an events committee before the organization’s board of directors is scheduled to meet about the topic on Feb. 16.
The talks are underway with the likelihood that the spread of the sickness will not have been halted by the summer. The Silly Market organizers recently said they would agree to restrictions if health officials or City Hall mandate them. Restrictions could include requiring masks, limiting attendance, restricting the number of vendors and designing the layout for social distancing.
The pedestrian days in 2020 drew a mixed reaction from businesses on Main Street. Some in July attributed an increase in sales to the pedestrianization of the street while others did not attribute an increase to the pedestrian days.
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Daniel Lewis, an Old Town resident who unsuccessfully sought a spot on the Park City Council in 2019, said this week he will mount another campaign this year.