Parkites provide input about Utah’s Winter Olympic bid
Park City, Summit County leaders want to hear from residents about hosting the 2030 or 2034 Games
The smell of roasted almonds. Crowds. Being surrounded by foreign languages. Trading Olympic pins. Leaving a legacy. These are what Parkites think about when remembering the 2002 Winter Games.
Around 20 people met inside the Summit County Library’s Kimball Junction branch on Thursday to participate in a community conversation about Utah’s Olympic bid. The discussion marked the halfway point in the listening series where community members can share what they consider potential benefits and challenges in hosting another Games.
Mountain Mediation Center began facilitating the small group discussions, which are intended to be a starting point in the Olympic conversation, earlier this month in Kamas and online on behalf of Park City and Summit County leaders. Other discussions are scheduled on Sept. 28 at the Christian Center of Park City, Sept. 29 at the Ledges Event Center in Coalville and Oct. 6 at the Park City Library.
After dividing the participants into two small groups, where names were confidential, facilitators invited people who were present during the 2002 Winter Games to share what they experienced.
One woman reflected on her experience as a volunteer at Soldier Hollow during the Olympics. She said she enjoyed the camaraderie so much that she stayed on for the Winter Paralympics shortly after. As a resident, she recalled feeling an overwhelming sense of pride. Another woman who volunteered on a fundraising committee in Salt Lake City agreed.
A Park City resident who was present during the 2002 Games said the event was also one of the first times the Olympics started showcasing culture in addition to sports. Other participants spoke about moving to Utah in the years after the Games and witnessing the lasting legacy.
One participant who moved to Park City in 2005 said she’s on the fence about Utah hosting another Olympics because she lived in Los Angeles during the 1984 Summer Games. She said the event was very well run but emphasized that management and planning are crucial. With concerns about traffic, housing and the drought affecting Utah, she said, the state may need to prioritize other issues. There was also discussion about whether it would be hard to hire workers amid the national labor shortage.
Congestion, transportation and housing were among the biggest concerns for community members when asked about the challenges associated with a future Winter Games. The Soldier Hollow volunteer said everything appeared to flow smoothly 20 years ago, but other participants feared local infrastructure would need to be upgraded to accommodate crowds amid a larger population.
However, some residents suggested the city and county could tap into federal funding typically associated with the Olympics that could be used to advance certain community priorities. Hosting another Winter Games could also lead to improved facilities and opportunities for young athletes that would reaffirm Park City’s standing as a winter-sports mecca, some said.
Many participants also advocated for promoting sustainability and striving for a zero-waste Games. They said the Olympics are a chance to leverage opportunities and make lasting change.
The groups were also asked which voices need to be heard by City Hall and the County Courthouse. Residents said officials need to reach out to area youth, low-income residents, minority groups, senior citizens, parents, athletes and members of the workforce including commuters.
While Thursday’s participants were generally supportive of hosting a future Games, facilitators said some members of the previous groups were more opinionated.
Space for the remaining Olympic discussions is limited. Those interested in participating are asked to RSVP at https://bit.ly/3RFIxf7 to secure a spot.
The Park City Chamber/Bureau is pleased with the Condé Nast Traveler listing. The organization said a sustainable tourism plan it adopted is expected to result in “a drop in occupancy (inbound visitors) coupled with an increase in ADR, also known as average daily room rate.”
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