Park City planning director, a pivotal figure in growth matters for decades, dies
Bruce Erickson was involved at some level in many of the notable development decisions
Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall and a figure who influenced the growth of Park City for decades, has died, the municipal government said, a loss that will reverberate through the municipal ranks as well as the wider community.
A statement from City Hall did not identify a cause of the death. There had been recent indications he was in failing health and he did not have as prominent a role, at least visibly, in Planning Department matters in the final months of 2020 as he had previously.
Erickson was 67. He was married to the late three-term Park City Councilor Candy Erickson, who died in 2011.
Erickson in November indicated he planned to retire from the planning director post during the summer of 2021, with a date set for July 1. His voice was frail at the time of the statement in November. In a brief interview at that time, Erickson noted his work as the planning director on large development proposals like Treasure, the base area of Park City Mountain Resort and Silver Star. He also highlighted the progress the Planning Department made on the rewriting of City Hall’s detailed development rules and the municipal government’s Old Town grant program, which provides public funds for work on properties in the historic district.
“Bruce and his family have a long and storied history in Park City. Bruce and his late wife and former Councilmember, Candy Erickson, embodied a passion for place, giving far more to Park City than they took from it. They were a formidable team that combined sharp wit, humility, and a tenacious spirit to maintain Park City’s small-town character. We are deeply grateful to Bruce for his dedication, leadership, and contributions to the city,” Mayor Andy Beerman said in a prepared statement released by City Hall. “He will be missed and never forgotten.”
Erickson was involved at some level in nearly all the major decisions regarding growth and development in Park City since the early 1990s. His professional background in designing mountain resorts was well suited for the roles in Park City.
He was a member of the Park City Planning Commission for 16 consecutive years ending in 2005, serving three terms as the chairman. It was a community-altering period that covered a 1990s boom era that continued into the following decade. Erickson held the Planning Commission seat for the polarizing debates about the project that would be built as Empire Pass and, later, the extended discussions about a development proposal known as Treasure on a hillside overlooking Old Town prior to City Hall acquiring the land in a conservation deal.
Erickson later returned to the Marsac Building to lead the Planning Department, with the appointment coming in 2015. He served as the planning director during the final years of the Treasure talks and, more recently, the discussions about the PCMR base area. The City Hall statement also noted his tenure included the municipal acquisition in a conservation deal of Bonanza Flat, a high-altitude tract of land just south of Park City that was long considered for major development.
“Erickson helmed the department during a pivotal time, including the Treasure Mountain development dispute and Bonanza Flat acquisition. Throughout his tenure, Erickson helped rebuild the planning department amidst a roaring economy and intensely competitive labor market,” the statement said.
City Hall in early January named Gretchen Milliken as the next planning director after a national search. Park City tapped her from the government of Louisville, Kentucky, where she held the post of director of advanced planning and sustainability.
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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.