Sundance, Park City start to draft script for 2018 festival
Access-pass system, Main Street concerns will be addressed
March 7, 2017
Park City leaders and Sundance Film Festival officials on Thursday will likely begin drafting a script for the 2018 edition of the top domestic marketplace of independent films.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council are scheduled to meet with ranking festival staffers at City Hall in the first discussion involving the full slate of elected officials since Sundance ended in January.
City Hall and festival organizers hold post-festival meetings annually, but there seems to be more urgency this year amid community concerns about the impacts of Sundance on the everyday life of Parkites, particularly those who live in Old Town. Traffic seemed especially bad at points during the 2017 festival and there were widespread parking issues, as examples.
It appears the mayor and City Council could consider dramatic measures in coming months as the plans for 2018 are crafted. The meeting on Thursday will likely offer a preview of the steps that may be considered. The discussion is expected to involve wide-ranging topics, but several will be of special note.
The elected officials will almost certainly address the prospects of introducing some sort of restrictions on vehicle access to Old Town, which becomes clogged with drivers, especially during the jammed opening weekend of the festival.
There has been talk about using an access-pass system similar to the one that has long been the key element of the traffic plans for the annual summertime Park City Kimball Arts Festival. During the arts festival, access passes are distributed to people who live in Old Town and must be shown at temporary checkpoints.
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A City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday poses broad policy questions about traffic restrictions, but it does not provide detailed ideas for an access-pass system. If an access-pass system or other sort of restriction is adopted, City Hall staffers anticipate addressing related issues like increasing enforcement in the neighborhood and creating more places for park-and-ride lots.
Another key topic arising from the festival in January is the use of public spaces by festival organizers. Sundance traditionally occupies public spaces through agreements with City Hall, using the locations for screening rooms and other activities. As the festival continues to grow, though, organizers seek additional spaces. City Hall and Sundance reached an agreement for the 2017 event allowing festival setups on lower Main Street and Swede Alley. Both of the locations required significant closures of public spaces. The closure of a stretch of lower Main Street to traffic in favor of the Festival Village for official Sundance sponsors was especially noteworthy. There were complaints from some brick-and-mortar businesses along lower Main Street that the Festival Village significantly hurt sales. There were also claims that the Festival Village lacked activities that would draw people.
The report to the City Council says the Festival Village "did see good crowds during the day but due to lack of (programming), was fairly quiet at night."
The discussion about Sundance is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. Thirty minutes are set aside for the discussion. A hearing is not planned, but the mayor oftentimes allows comments from the public anyway.
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