Park Record 2021 Voter Guide: Park City mayoral candidates
With Election Day approaching on Nov. 2, The Park Record asked the two Park City mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor Andy Beerman and City Councilor Nann Worel, to answer a series of questions in their own words on a range of topics important to voters.
Click here to see the City Council candidates’ answers.
• Please describe your qualifications for the office you seek.
Andy Beerman (incumbent): I have nearly a decade of on-the-job training comprised of 6 years on Council and nearly 4 years as Mayor. I provided measured, collaborative leadership through the pandemic which was an unprecedented health, economic, and social crisis. Meanwhile, we made great progress on many complex challenges, including Treasure Hill, 157 new affordable housing units, and new state laws to allow for utility-scale renewable power. I have developed expansive regional relationships from Congress to local non-profits. This is critical because none of our challenges stop at the White Barn—especially traffic, housing, and climate. I have vocal support from a majority of City Council. Without these relationships, the Mayor cannot be effective. I have demonstrated conviction and willingness to fight for Park City. Treasure, COVID, and Hideout are all examples. I co-facilitated the yearlong Vision 2020 and am excited about the community’s agenda for the next decade. I have lived the Park City experience. I came here when I was young and had little. I started selling skis and bikes, built my own business, and along the way have been raised and shaped by Park City.
Nann Worel: I started my career as a United States Navy Nurse and have continued a life of service since then. I learned from the wounded warriors I cared for that leadership is about service and honor – honoring those you serve, the community you serve, and the commitments you make. I worked as a hospital administrator and co-founded a medical clinic for the uninsured while living in Alabama. That clinic now serves 3 states. Upon relocating to Park City in 2008, I became the Executive Director of the People’s Health Clinic and served in that capacity for 8 years. In 2010, I was appointed to the Park City Planning Commission and served there for 5 1/2 years (including 2 as Chair.) During that time, I learned a great deal about land use and our Land Management Code and helped create Park City’s 2014 General Plan. This experience informs my leadership as major developments appear on our City’s horizon. I was elected to the Park City Council in 2015 and am currently serving a second term in that capacity. My time on the City Council has given me an even deeper appreciation for public process and our smart community.
• Park City has for decades struggled with the environmental legacy of the silver-mining era, engaging state and federal regulators over the years as it took cleanup steps. City Hall earlier in 2021 scrapped plans to develop a facility to store contaminated soils amid broad public resistance. Please outline your preferred solution to the storage of the contaminated soils. In your answer, please also identify a funding mechanism for your preferred solution.
Beerman: Park City has a long history with mining related soils. Repository or not, we are stuck with this legacy and need to continue to seek solutions. Public health must be the number one priority, and science should be a larger part of the conversation. On next steps, the City should: 1) take its time and increase public engagement; 2) provide the public with a full comparison of all options; and 3) continue to seek EPA assistance to assure the safe management of Richardson Flats. The City currently is holding $4M in funds earmarked for soils mitigation. This money could be used for a new repository, upgrading the existing Richardson Flat repository, or transporting soils to another site.
Worel: The #1 recommendation from the final report of the 2013 Blue Ribbon Commission on Soils is to segregate contaminated soil from clean soil on site. Allowing the export of clean soil for reuse in other areas would allow more options for managing contaminated soil within projects while decreasing the amount of soil hauled to repositories and reducing project budgets. Our soils should be kept as close to Park City as possible to decrease soil loss during hauling and reduce the carbon footprint of hauling to Toole. The existing soil repository at Richardson Flats has additional capacity for 600,000 to 1 million cubic yards. Talks MUST be restarted with the EPA about reopening the facility. The cost of separating and hauling soils, as well as tipping fees, will vary by project and should be factored into overall project budgets.
• City Hall held bold ideas to develop an arts and culture district when it acquired land off the intersection of Bonanza Drive and Kearns Boulevard at a price of nearly $20 million. Questions, though, have since arisen about the cost of the development. Please discuss your vision for the land. In your answer please propose a rough budget estimate for your preferred use.
Beerman: In 2017 the City purchased 5.5 acres on the corner of Bonanza-Kearns to prevent a large commercial development and re-purpose the land for community uses. This was done in partnership with the Kimball Arts Center and Sundance who proposed purchasing pieces to build permanent HQs. To fund the acquisition and build it out, the City levied a new lodging tax. In 2017/2018 there was extensive public engagement which supported an arts and culture district. Post-COVID, some residents question whether this is the best use of the land. Currently, the project is ‘on pause’ to allow Council to re-engage the public. I am open to new visions but believe any project should 1) be for community benefit; 2) have community gathering space; 3) stay on the original budget; 4) integrate and connect to Prospector; 5) allow Sundance and Kimball to purchase land for their new homes.
Worel: The District has morphed considerably from the original vision presented to Sundance and Kimball Art Center in 2017. The cost has also skyrocketed. Both organizations have had changes in senior leadership and halted capital campaigns due to COVID. Our next step should be to sit down with those partners and the community at large to honestly discuss whether an Arts and Culture District still makes sense and, if so, establish a firm budget for the City’s portion of the project. If it is determined it would be best to shift away from an arts themed district, I believe the best use of the land would be for affordable rental units, senior housing, a smart transit center, and small pocket parks. I see this as ripe for public/private partnership with the City’s overall investment not to exceed $50 million.
• A Provo firm is currently engaged with the Park City Planning Commission regarding a large development proposal at the base of Park City Mountain Resort with the possibility the proposal could eventually be put to Park City’s elected officials through an appeal. In your estimation, is the proposal appropriate for the land? If so, why? If not, please describe how you would weigh the proposal against the development rights attached to the land.
Beerman: Park City residents have ‘had it’ with relentless construction and want us to ‘stop digging,’ literally and figuratively! Unfortunately, Utah State law protects old entitlements which means the City cannot legally stop development unless we buy it (like Treasure Hill or Bonanza Park). I do not support increasing entitlements, variances, or making height exceptions. My lens puts community character over economic development. Whenever possible, we should look for opportunities to reduce density, mitigate traffic, and improve neighborhood compatibility. Period.
Worel: As a sitting member of the Park City Council and potential member of the body hearing the appeal of the future decision of the Planning Commission, I am limited in my answer to this question. As a former Planning Commissioner, I have confidence that the current Commissioners are ensuring that the General Plan and Land Management Code are being applied to every aspect of the proposal as they make their decision. If and when I am asked to review the decision made by the Planning Commission, I will be looking closely to ensure that impacts to the local community are being mitigated to the full extent allowed by the Land Management Code.
• Park City traffic remains one of the top annoyances for residents and visitors alike, even after improvements have been made over time like the expansion of bus lines. Describe your preferred plan for the Park City transit system over the next decade, and does that vision include aerial transit like a gondola system? How would you balance the needs of Parkites and the workforce with those of visitors?
Beerman: Parkites consistently agree on one thing: they abhor traffic. Park City is geographically constrained and plagued by too many cars, in too little space. We will NOT build our way out of traffic—we must be innovative and tactical. I have long been a proponent for creating a car-optional town with a strong focus on transit, walkability, and active transportation. I championed the electric buses, 224 express, more bike lanes, and the addition of a park and ride and inbound transit lane for 248. I am skeptical of road expansions, and I advocate for lowering speed limits and better protecting our wildlife. Given a second term, I want to reinvigorate our walkability projects, increase neighborhood traffic mitigation, and take a hard look at creative solutions like aerial transportation and micro transit.
Worel: I am the City Council’s liaison to the Transportation Innovation Strategic Pillar that emerged from Park City Vision 2020. I am working closely with staff and a qualified task force to finalize a Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan will be multimodal in nature and leaves room to explore innovative options such as microtransit, active transportation, light rail, etc. The plan must have measurable goals and milestones so the community can clearly monitor progress. Priority should be given to finding highly efficient ways for the approximately 15,000 employees that commute to Park City daily to arrive in town without cars. For residents, I am a proponent of a hub and spoke transit model that picks up people in their neighborhoods and takes them to a transit center for direct access to the resorts, Main Street, and other destinations. Micro transit is a key part of that model.
• Park City symbolizes the corporatization of the ski industry with Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort under the umbrellas of two of the main competitors in today’s ski industry, Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company. Please discuss the opportunities and the drawbacks you see of corporate ownership of the resorts. Describe the sort of relationship you would like to build between City Hall and the two ownership firms.
Beerman: Much has changed in the ski industry: a decade ago Park City had three independently owned and locally managed resorts. For decades, Park City ‘grew up’ with our resorts and enjoyed a familial relationship. Today, our relationships are more formal and transactional. While these companies have a passion for winter sport, and strongly support their host communities, they are also obligated to their investors and shareholders. Fortunately, we still share many values and regularly partner on community priorities like traffic reduction, renewable energy, and event management. Nostalgia aside, we must continue to collaborate in order to thrive. Fortunately, Park City Mountain Resort (Vail) and Deer Valley (Alterra) are willing partners, generous community supporters, and strong economic drivers. As long as they remember that we are a town with resorts—as opposed to a resort town—we’ll be OK.
Worel: Corporate ownership of the resorts allows for increased funding for infrastructure improvements to enhance the skiing experience. It also, through the Epic and Ikon pass programs, increases the number of visitors to town. This boosts lodging, restaurant, and retail revenues, but also negatively impacts locals’ quality of life on account of increased traffic, parking in neighborhoods, crowding on the mountains and in town, etc. I envision City leadership meeting jointly with leadership from both resorts and the PC Chamber on a monthly basis to open channels of communication and to identify common issues AND solutions. It will take all parties working together to make sustainable tourism a reality in Park City and that can only happen with relationships built on mutual trust, respect, and open communication.
• Park City has invested heavily in Old Town over the years, rebuilding streets, assisting owners of historic houses with upgrades and acquiring the Treasure land in a high-dollar conservation deal, as examples. Will you continue to prioritize investment in Old Town? Moreover, please identify one project or program valued at $1 million or more you pledge to propose in the municipal budget sometime during the next four years for the benefit of Park Meadows and one such project or program for the benefit of Prospector.
Beerman: Old Town is the heart and soul of Park City and a challenging district to manage. Historic Main Street is a major economic driver, but it sits in the center of Old Town which is geographically constrained, a National Historic District, and home to many residents. It’s been a longstanding challenge to balance commercial and residential demands for Old Town, which often conflict. Preserving Treasure Hill was an investment for the entire community, as evidenced by its broad support. Park City will continue to invest in all of our neighborhoods. One example is next year’s plans for major improvements to the Rail Trail. Citywide, we need to do a better job of protecting our neighborhoods and promoting street safety. For this reason, I suggest the creation of a Neighborhood Services Department to specifically address each neighborhood’s unique challenges and to put our locals first in decision-making.
Worel: Old Town is the very core of who we are as an authentic community and must continue to be a priority for the City. It reflects our City’s heritage in addition to being a major economic driver for our community. The City must continue to streamline the approval process for renovation and preservation to historic structures, as well as work closely with the HPCA. The Prospector Square Property Owners Association has a Master Plan, and I will propose that the City allocate $1M to improve community spaces and pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to surrounding areas. In Park Meadows, I will propose allocating $1M to a microtransit system to take residents to a central transit center to transfer to direct buses to the resorts and Main Street.
• Park City reignited quickly after the spread of the novel coronavirus shuttered the economy in the spring of 2020. Are the spectacular economic numbers the city has enjoyed sustainable and what role does City Hall play in attempting to ensure they are? If not, please describe one step the municipal government could take to guard against a drop in numbers.
Beerman: In March of 2019 the community finalized the Vision 2020 where 1700 community members charted a path for the next decade. There was grave concern we would lose our essence and become ‘Disneyland-Park City’ without bold action to shape our future. Sustainable tourism figured prominently as a tool to restore balance between community and economy. Two weeks later, our economy was shuttered–not quite what we had in mind. Now, our speedy economic recovery has Parkites feeling overwhelmed. It is not sustainable and has exacerbated challenges with housing, traffic, workforce, and affordability. COVID19 has also encouraged a wave of new residents with fresh energy and ideas. I believe we are transitioning into a ‘lifestyle economy’ that is less dependent on tourism. If we can protect our quality of life, Park City will continue to thrive. Build and maintain a town for the locals, and the visitors will love it.
Worel: The numbers are sustainable as long as we remain a destination people want to visit. If we fail to solve our traffic and workforce shortage issues and overcrowd resorts and trails, tourists will stop coming and a large segment of our local economy will be hurt. City Hall must join forces with the Chamber and organizations directly connected to our tourism economy to develop and implement a sustainable tourism plan. In the interest of sustaining our economy and quality of life, we must collectively pursue quality over quantity when it comes to organizing events, marketing Park City as a destination, and driving visitor spending.
• The 2030 Winter Olympics are expected to be awarded during the political terms on the ballot this year, with Salt Lake City appearing to be one of the frontrunners to be the host and Park City being key to the plans for a second Games in the state. Please discuss your priorities for another Olympics and how a Games could advance the community’s broader goals. Will you pledge that an Olympics would be staged at no cost to the taxpayers of Park City?
Beerman: Another Olympics would be the Utah Games–not the Park City Games–and may come to Utah whether we want them or not. Park City has a ‘seat at the table’ and a voice. Organizers are looking to re-envision the Winter Games to be less expensive, more compact, and focused on the athletes. Athletes are demanding the games be climate-friendly and more equitable. Utah is poised to host an Olympics that is net-zero, athlete-centric, uses existing facilities, and requires no public funding. I support Park City having a deep conversation about the pros and cons of another Olympics. When we do, I hope we consider that winter sport is in our DNA and an Olympics would be a celebration of mountain culture and an inspiration to our youth athletes. Pursuing a Games could bolster Park City’s infrastructure, forge regionalism, and strongly align with our community values.
Worel: Park City residents have not yet had an opportunity to weigh in on the City’s role in a future Winter Olympics. That needs to happen sooner rather than later. Many residents here in 2002 say, “Once was enough!” while newcomers say, “Bring it on!” If the Olympics are to return, my focus will be on mitigating impacts to the local community. Critical discussions with residents need to happen in early 2022 to hear concerns and identify solutions. While I am not willing to spend any taxpayer dollars to host the Olympics, I am open to learning more about using available IOC funds to improve infrastructure for our transportation network, roadways, and active transportation corridors.
• Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
Beerman: I’m firm in my belief that Park City’s ‘essence’ flows from the people who stay, show up, build place, honor the history, and dream of an even better future. The Park City I love, has a light heart, a strong constitution, and is unafraid of bold efforts. That is the Park City that inspires me to serve. As Mayor, I have painstakingly built credibility for Park City with the State legislature; forged regional friendships and alliances; listened to the community; and sought actions that accord with resident wishes, and yet acknowledge their fears. We have made some missteps, but the ‘price of motion is stubbed toe.’ However, I don’t believe a stumble is reason enough to change course, when our residents remain resolute on what they cherish. So, until I hear from the community that they don’t want less construction, more open space, a healthy climate, less traffic, more diversity, less growth, more engagement, or safer neighborhoods, I plan to keep chargin’ those hills with optimism, conviction & heart.
Worel: My opponent and I come from very different backgrounds. My life is rooted in service. My experience in the nonprofit world taught me the critical art and necessity of collaboration to achieve common goals. It taught me to recognize my limitations and bring in expertise as needed, such as in major negotiations on behalf of the City. The experience I gained on the Planning Commission gave me a great understanding of the Land Management Code and General Plan and the necessity of an overarching plan as applications are considered on major entitled developments inside 84060 and out in the County. Finally, my experience as a Navy nurse taught me that leadership is rooted in honor and service, specifically honoring the people you serve, your community, and commitments you make. Honoring people means giving credit where credit is due, listening to and including divergent voices, ensuring public process is followed in an inclusive and transparent fashion, being accessible, admitting when you’re wrong, and using collaboration to build consensus. Mine is a leadership style focused on WE, not ME.
Ballots for the election, which will be conducted by mail, were sent out Tuesday. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Nov. 1. Voters can also return ballots at several drop-box locations. For more information, visit parkcity.org/government/election-information.
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The Park City Council will soon be short one member and Parkites will have an opportunity to take the seat with no campaign required. Officials on Tuesday are scheduled to hold an event designed for people who are considering submitting their name as a candidate for the appointment.