RORY MURPHY | ParkRecord.com

RORY MURPHY

PR,

Please describe how your background prepares you for a seat on the Park City Council.

I moved to Park City 23 years ago from Vermont and have raised three children here, my daughter, my son and my niece. I love this town and I’m not sure why anyone would live anywhere else. My "pre-Park City" background included four years as US Army Paratrooper. I served two years at Ft. Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division and two years in Alaska with an Arctic Paratrooper unit (172nd Brigade Alaska, Charlie Co.). I have degrees in Law Enforcement, Natural Resources Science and an MBA. I was the Vice-President of United Park City Mines Company for nine years and was a principal in the Silver Star Development. I am working on the 820 Park Ave. project in the downtown core. My background in large project management and development has acquainted me with virtually every department at the City. I am intimately aware of the inner-workings of City Hall. Additionally, I have served on many Government and Non-Profit Boards and Commissions and have held leadership positions in many of those. Examples include The Park City Planning Commission, Sundance (Chair), The Park City School District Master Planning Committee (Chair), Summit County Judicial Selection Committee, the Park City Soils Commission, the Wasatch County Roads Commission and many others. I have a great deal of experience in government affairs as well as many different ties to the citizens of this town. I have also coached lacrosse at both the High School and the youth levels and have served on several HOA Boards.

Many claim traffic has overwhelmed Park City in the years since the worst of the recession, culminating in a terrible traffic jam that stretched through much of the city on a day last December. Please describe what you see as the primary cause of the traffic problems in Park City. Identify one solution you would like implemented for the upcoming ski season and one long-term solution to traffic.

Traffic will continue to increase as the City continues to rise in popularity and continues to be built-out. The primary cause is the incredibly vibrant economic engines that are the ski resorts. There is no magic bullet for traffic, rather there are a series of incremental changes that we can make that will alleviate the traffic issues considerably. These include rapid-transit bus lines, increased parking costs and control of taxis and vans during the winter months. The idea of a mass-transit solution that specifically arrives from either Richardson or Kimball Junction, one that uses the existing highway corridor infrastructure (i.e.: not one that considers boring holes through mountainsides) is something that needs to be examined thoroughly and understood as a possible long term solution.

Design issues continue to be divisive in Old Town as City Hall weighs historic preservation against property owners’ wishes to redo and expand their places. Please rate the municipal government’s oversight of building designs in Old Town. Would you like the restrictions kept as is, loosened or tightened and why?

The Historic Design guidelines have been an issue since I moved here over 20 years ago and they continue to be an issue. The guidelines that are in place now have worked well; what has not worked quite as well has been the consistency of application. I’ve won two Project-of-the-Year Awards from the Utah Heritage Foundation for historic renovation projects I’ve done in Park City. That would indicate that I’ve done something right relative to historic preservation. Historic preservation is very difficult and you don’t really know what you are getting into until the staff has reviewed and ruled on your project and you have uncovered what is underneath the siding and roof. While I definitely would love a do-over for some efforts, I have worked on a large number of historic projects in the City that were very well-regarded.

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Bonanza Park, for years envisioned as an up-and-coming district, has enjoyed only moderate success as competing interests tangled about the district’s future. What is your vision for Bonanza Park? Please discuss what you see as City Hall’s role and the private sector’s role in striving toward that vision. What do you see as the primary planning and development challenge in Bonanza Park?

Bonanza Park has a bright future as a redevelopment area as Park City continues to mature as a community. The extensive redevelopment plans that BOPA envisioned were not widely regarded and took a complex concept (form-based code) and tried to apply it uniformly to a District that has widely differing influences. It wasn’t a good fit and it consequently did not do well in the public vetting of the concept. The result was that not much has changed in the past 10 years or so other than the addition of a couple of awesome restaurants. Bonanza will continue to see redevelopment pressures and will continue to adapt and grow along with the City.

City Hall has enjoyed a series of successes over the years in its work force or otherwise affordable housing programs, but Park City remains a difficult housing market for many. Should the municipal government continue to play an aggressive role in housing issues? If so, please identify one location where you would support a housing project that has not already been considered and describe what sort of project you envision? If not, please discuss why City Hall should scale back its efforts.

I have built affordable housing within Park City as well as in Wasatch County. I am more aware of the economics and pressures of actually producing workforce housing than most. Workforce housing is not a new concept. It has occurred anywhere the economic activity has eclipsed the ability for the local housing market to keep up. For example, there has been rent-controlled housing in NYC since the 1920’s at least. We are at a cross roads; we can either accept the traffic, parking and other socioeconomic impacts of forcing the vast majority of the workforce to live outside of town or we can try, incrementally at least, to accommodate at least a portion of that workforce as citizens of Park City. An example of an underutilized space that could accommodate this idea would be the redevelopment of the old fire station site on Park Avenue.

Park City leaders want to diversify the economy from one that is heavily reliant on tourism and tourism-related industries such as construction. Please discuss what you see as the benefits of a diversified economy in place so dominated by one industry. Please outline one economic development initiative that you would propose during the next City Council term and how that jibes with Park City’s current economic mix.

I don’t really believe that the City leadership should necessarily try to diversify the economy in every instance. It does not make any sense to try to attract non-resort-related businesses if these businesses are going to attract additional workforce that is at or below the minimum standard that would allow that individual to live in the City. We are simply exacerbating our already existing problems (such as traffic and parking) and I’m not sure the economy really needs the stimulus. Given Park City’s geographic position adjacent to a major metro area, we should instead focus on a tourism-oriented economy which is what we do very well.

The Park City Planning Department, critical to many of City Hall’s long-term goals, has experienced a series of staff departures since the most recent municipal election, held in 2013. Please discuss whether the performance of the Planning Department has met the standard you expect from such an important section of the municipal government. If so, please cite an example. If not, please describe one change you want implemented.

Given my background as a resort developer, I have had an extensive relationship with the Park City Planning Department. While there have been several recent leadership transitions, the Staff has largely remained intact. I am very pleased and encouraged that the City has employed Bruce Ericksen as the Director of the Planning Department. Bruce’s background as a ski area consultant and as a long-term Planning Commissioner is such an excellent fit for the position. I am also greatly encouraged by the City’s decision to hire a Development Director to coordinate the decisions between the departments.

It has been a little more than a year since Colorado-based Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort with plans to link the property with Canyons Resort to create the largest mountain resort in the United States. Please discuss your opinion of Vail Resorts as a corporate citizen that operates in Park City. Please describe one positive impression you have of Vail Resorts and one negative one.

I was fairly critical of Vail prior to their acquisition of PCMR for various reasons. That is now water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. Vail is now our neighbor and will have a huge influence on the future of Park City and it is beneficial to us all that a working relationship be established between Park City and Vail just as it would be with any company that is located in Town. Vail is a publically-traded corporation and, given that, their primary concern is the bottom line. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but one that will most certainly create friction within the City as time goes on. Vail is an excellent operator and their presence will certainly influence us to a degree. Managing both parties expectations will be a critical function of City government going into the future.

Broad issues like growth and traffic extend well outside the Park City limits, where other jurisdictions like Summit County and Wasatch County hold decision-making power. Please discuss the relationship you see City Hall as having with the outside governments. Please outline your opinion of the effectiveness of Summit County and Wasatch County as they plan for growth.

I have been critical of Park City’s relationships with Summit and, particularly, Wasatch County. The level of communication between the governments is not excellent and it should be given the future we face together. We have to do a much better job of engaging our neighbors and acting in a cohesive manner that is bound by mutual trust and goals. Our current relationship with Wasatch County is very strained and we need to move to repair it. I have worked in Wasatch County and have established many solid relationships with key individuals. I have also worked in Summit County and I have long-time friendships with people in the County government. I believe I could help to communicate well between the parties.

Please differentiate yourself from your opponents.

I have lived in Park City for 23 years and raised three wonderful kids here. During my time here, I have worked on the other side of the aisle with the Park City Staff virtually that entire period. I am friends with many of the Staff and have forged long-term relationships with most of the departments. I have tried to act in a fair, conscientious manner and I believe the result has been projects that were carefully built with the interests of the community being integral. Silver Star incorporated the largest historic renovation project in Park City’s history along with on-site affordable housing units. As far as I know, I am the only candidate that has actually built successful 20 affordable housing units in the City using private money. I am intimately familiar with economics of affordable housing. My background in large-scale resort development will give the City an advantage when processing the four major projects that are coming down the road (the two resort parking lots, Treasure Mt and Bonanza Flats). I have extensive work experience in both Wasatch and Summit Counties and have held leadership positions in the Sundance Institute, the Park City School District, the Park City Lacrosse Association and many other fine organizations.