Reno, Tahoe trip planned
There might be a few rolls of quarters packed in the luggage when Parkites leave for City Hall’s ‘city tour,’ an annual outing to other resorts in the West that the organizer says provides valuable information about the competitors.
Myles Rademan, Park City’s Public Affairs director, who plans the trip each year, plans to take the Parkites in September to the Lake Tahoe region, with stops including Reno, Nev., and Truckee, Calif. The trip is slated for Sept. 6-10, a Wednesday to Sunday.
He expects between 60 and 65 people to attend, including about 15 people from City Hall who will travel on the taxpayers’ tab. The numbers are roughly the same as in past years. Rademan estimates that the trip will cost about $600 per person.
The group plans to meet with a roster of public officials, nonprofit leaders and businessmen during the trip, which will also visit at least three Lake Tahoe-area mountain resorts. The trip includes stops on the South Shore and North Shore of the lake.
He explains the choice to go to Reno, where the group will stay for less than 24 hours, as smart because, he said, there is a push in the famous casino town toward making the downtown more attractive. Rademan says that Reno should not be seen as a only a spot for people at one-armed bandits and blackjack tables.
"They bristle if you tell them it’s a gambling town," Rademan said, noting that Reno has a river walk, that it is handling transit issues and affordable housing. "I know they’re very proud of their downtown improvements."
Normally, the local officials try to learn about programs in the other cities and then try to find out if they would be successful in Park City and surrounding Summit County. Rademan cautions that, while in Reno, the trip-goers should not become enamored with the gaming industry as a way to draw tourists — it will not occur in Utah.
"I don’t think we’re going to hear about gambling because gambling is not going to happen here," Rademan said.
But Denny Martindale, who is with the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, said the area’s economy is diverse even with gaming being a billion-dollar industry in the Reno area.
Skiing and special events like an August car show and a motorcycle festival in September diversify the area’s tourism, he said.
"Gaming is not our No. 1 industry," Martindale said, identifying general tourism as the top.
He said Reno tries to package summertime golf and wintertime skiing with the casinos, providing visitors with options.
Meanwhile, in Truckee, the Parkites will likely meet officials with similar concerns as those in Park City and Summit County. Although Truckee is not located at a major mountain resort, it is widely known as a mountain town, close to Lake Tahoe’s ski slopes.
Tony Lashbrook, the town manager in Truckee, said about half of the town’s houses and condominiums are vacation properties and people live all year in the other half. The town incorporated in 1993.
He said Truckee, like lots of other mountain resorts, is under pressure to ensure it remains authentic as developers build their projects.
"How do we stay a real town," he said, noting that people from the Bay area and Sacramento buying vacation homes are pushing up real-estate prices.
Lashbrook said Truckee officials try to maintain a historic district, require both residential and commercial developers to provide restricted affordable housing — 50 percent of the workforce on commercial projects — and are planning to redevelop an abandoned lumber and railroad yard. He said a downtown paid-parking system was launched in October after contemplating the topic for three years and said that merchants pushed for the system.
"All the same issues, maybe we have different twists on them," he said, comparing Truckee to other mountain communities.
The redevelopment at the former lumber and rail yard, he said, will be a public-private partnership covering about 30 acres in the middle of Truckee. Lofts and other types of residences will be mixed with stores, he said.
Lashbrook also said Truckee is trying to revitalize the area around the Truckee River, which he said has historically "been a convenient dumping ground" for lumber mills and other industries.
The Winter Olympics might be discussed on the trip as well, with Park City having hosted about half of the events of the 2002 Games and the Reno-Lake Tahoe region frequently mentioned as a future bidder for a Winter Olympics.
Martindale said a bid committee is seated and the region will try to become the next American city to bid for an Olympics, offering Squaw Valley, Calif., for skiing events and Reno for the other competitions.
"I think they could easily do an Olympics . . . As easy as anywhere else," Rademan, a key part of Park City’s planning efforts for 2002, said. "It’s not like a little city. It’s not like Heber asking can they host an Olympics on their own."
The Lake Tahoe region fits with Rademan’s efforts to plan trips to communities that he sees as being of interest to Parkites. Last year, the group traveled to Jackson, Wyo., and Ketchum, Idaho, where the Sun Valley ski resort is located. Other years, the trip has traveled to diverse destinations like Santa Fe, N.M., Bozeman, Mont., Aspen, Colo., and Grand Junction, Colo.
There has not been opposition to the tab of the government officials being picked up by taxpayers.
Rademan said lots of ideas from the trips have been pushed locally afterward, like the trails system observed in Sun Valley, the affordable housing in Aspen, publicly displayed art in Grand Junction and land-conservation efforts in Jackson.
Some of the people on the trip are frequently seen enjoying the nightlife of places like Aspen and Rademan said he expects that Reno’s casinos will lure some inside.
"What happens in Reno," he said. "Stays in Reno."
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An important property owner at the Resort Center at Park City Mountain Resort indicated it backs plans for a major development, some of the first consequential support for a project that has overwhelmingly drawn opposition.