Park City’s best eras recognized as ‘1990s (pre-Olympics)’ and ‘2000s Boom times’
State of the City audience provides input about housing affordability, worsening traffic
Some Parkites long for the 1990s, an era of spectacular growth as the area, at the same time, prepared for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Others in Park City, though, prefer the first decade of the 2000s, largely defined by an especially hot economy in the post-Olympic years prior to the recession of more than a decade ago.
Mayor Andy Beerman’s recent State of the City address, delivered at the Santy Auditorium to an online audience as City Hall continues the efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, covered decades of Park City’s history as he attempted to link the present day to the earlier eras.
The address also included interactive-polling segments, allowing people viewing the remarks to cast votes on broad questions about the community. The polling results offered an intriguing look at the mindset of Park City as hopes are rising for the end of the pandemic.
In one of the questions, the mayor inquired about someone’s favorite period of Park City, if they “could take Park City back in time.” The results:
• 32% for “1990s (pre-Olympics)”
• 32% for “2000s ‘Boom times’”
• 22% for “2030 I can’t wait!”
• 12% for “1980s or earlier”
• 2% for “2020 the COVID days”
The results would be of interest to Park City arrivals of any era, as well as the dwindling number of people who were raised in the community decades ago.
The 32% pointing to the 1990s and the pre-Olympic period likely reflects the opinions of people who arrived during a stunning growth spurt in that decade. Park City emerged as a well-known skiing destination in the 1980s, but it was not until the following decade that population and economic growth became acute. The 32% selecting the 2000s would be expected to capture the newcomers from another time of growth that followed the Games before temporarily subsiding with the onset of the recession. The 12% opting for the 1980s or earlier appear to represent the first waves of growth after the launch of the ski industry in Park City in the 1960s.
There has been ongoing friction for decades between Parkites of the different eras. Old-timers already rooted in the community in the 1970s and 1980s had issues when the first skiers started to move to Park City. The early skiers, in turn, worried about those who arrived in the 1990s as real estate was driven higher, traffic increased and the small-town atmosphere began to erode. The later arrivals have expressed similar worries.
Another telling question during the State of the City address centered on housing affordability as the mayor inquired “when did housing become unaffordable?” The results:
• 54% during the “2005 Real Estate Boom”
• 22% during the “1990s”
• 17% during “the year before I got here”
• 5% during the “1980s”
• 2% in “1964 when the Park City Ski Area opened”
The results seem to point to similar opinions as the question regarding taking Park City back in time. The rise in real estate, dated to 2005 in the poll, was a key component of the broader lift in the economy in that era. Major developments were underway alongside smaller projects throughout Park City at that time. It did not subside until the recession.
The mayor, meanwhile, inquired about traffic, asking “when did traffic become so bad?” The results:
• 49% “2014 (Carmageddon)”
• 41% “Post-Olympics”
• 7% “Doesn’t matter, I ride my bike”
• 2% “1990s”
• 1% “When the VW buses arrived”
The results show that the traffic of the last 20 years was, by a wide margin, tougher for the community than even during the 1990s era of rapid growth. It also seems to show concern during eras when the public transit system had already begun to expand. The most popular answer of “2014 (Carmageddon)” alludes to a terrible traffic jam in December of that year that some said was likely the worst that had ever occurred in Park City. Lines of cars that day stretched through much of Park City and onto the entryways during the afternoon rush hour as the backups turned trips that would ordinarily take minutes into drives of longer than an hour to travel just a short distance. The 41% choosing “Post-Olympics” pointed toward the time of rapid development before the recession of a decade ago.
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As Deer Valley starts talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a large development proposal at Snow Park, called Snow Park Village, the resort has identified the possibility a gondola as a traffic-fighting measure.