PCMR package of upgrades tested by City Hall panel
A City Hall panel touched on numerous points on Wednesday as it discussed plans for a Park City Mountain Resort-Canyons Resort gondola and other improvements at PCMR.
The Park City Planning Commission was not expected to vote on the Interconnect Gondola, which is the centerpiece of Vail Resorts’ blueprints to combine the two resorts into one property, or the other upgrades. The Planning Commission is scheduled to return to the discussions at a meeting on March 25.
The Planning Commission spent time discussing the gondola proposal, an idea to expand the Snow Hut restaurant and related topics. The meeting was held two weeks after the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission approved the gondola section that will be built outside the Park City limits, in unincorporated Summit County.
The Planning Commission in Park City, though, also dealt with the Snow Hut restaurant and other issues at PCMR, resulting in a discussion that seemed more difficult than the one in the Snyderville Basin. It was expected that the Park City Planning Commission talks would be more challenging.
A Vail Resorts team briefly spoke to the Planning Commission about the consolidated ski experience that will be offered once the two resorts are linked into one. The Colorado firm anticipates building the gondola and making the other improvements prior to the start of the 2015-2016 ski season.
But members of the Planning Commission pressed issues like parking and the design of the redo of the Snow Hut restaurant. Doug Thimm, a member of the Planning Commission, expressed a desire that the design of a side of the building be improved. Another Planning Commissioner, Steve Joyce, said he supported the plans, indicating that the Snow Hut restaurant height is not an issue since it is not located close to anything else. Planning Commissioner Melissa Band said the restaurant "definitely needed an upgrade," indicating the building is not close to other structures.
The Planning Commission also addressed parking issues at PCMR, but it did not seem the panel reached a conclusion. Planning Commissioners debated whether the PCMR-Canyons Resort link, known as the Interconnect Gondola, will reduce traffic.
Other topics the Planning Commission addressed included a historic preservation plan at PCMR and work force housing. There appeared to be questions about what entity is responsible for executing a historic preservation plan since Vail Resorts leases the majority of the PCMR terrain from a firm under the Talisker corporate umbrella. Mark Harrington, the Park City attorney, told the Planning Commission City Hall has not yet specified a responsible party. Planning Director Thomas Eddington said research is underway to learn what firm owns the property where the historic sites are located. There are numerous silver mining-era relics at PCMR.
Nine people testified during a hearing. Many of the comments were in support of the package of improvements.
Bob Wheaton, the president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort, said the PCMR plans are "brilliant."
"It’s exactly what the resort needs," Wheaton said.
Diane Thompson, a Park Meadows resident, said she supports the PCMR package of upgrades. She said she hopes she can see the gondola because Park City "is a ski town." There have been questions about the visibility of the gondola. Thompson also said the current Snow Hut restaurant is a "disaster" without enough seating.
Scott Loomis, who is the executive director of Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to work force and other housing issues, told the Planning Commission PCMR and Canyons Resort have done little to support housing for the work force. He said the situation is "almost shameful" as he described that the upgrades will attract more skiers and necessitate additional workers.
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A group of Park City residents on Monday night criticized the prospects of City Hall developing a workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town. The people at a Marsac Building event raised a range of issues.