Sundance swag: an access pass to drive in Old Town? | ParkRecord.com

Sundance swag: an access pass to drive in Old Town?

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

People who live in Old Town may someday get a piece of Sundance Film Festival swag from City Hall.

A member of the Park City Council on Thursday mentioned whether it is possible to institute what would apparently be some sort of access-pass system for drivers on certain streets in Old Town during the opening days of Sundance.

City Councilor Andy Beerman unexpectedly broached the idea in a brief comment about Sundance. The elected officials were not scheduled to discuss the festival at the meeting, and others on the City Council did not dwell on the topic. It appears the idea could be further discussed at a later meeting, as City Hall undertakes a standard review the operations of the festival. There was not a Sundance representative at the meeting on Thursday.

Beerman seemed to refer to the access-pass system that has been used for years to restrict traffic in Old Town during the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival, held each summer on Main Street. Under the arts festival system, access passes are distributed to people who live in a large swath of Old Town. Checkpoints are then set up to stop people without the access passes from driving into the neighborhood. The system is meant to reduce traffic in Old Town and keep arts festival-goers from parking on neighborhood streets, where parking is restricted to residents.

Sundance is usually the busiest stretch of the year in Park City as large crowds of industry workers, independent-film fans and celebrity gawkers descend on the city. The opening weekend is especially jammed. Traffic at many times is terrible during Sundance and parking in the Main Street core is either heavily restricted or priced significantly higher than it is at other times. Regular Park City drivers share the roads with a large influx of taxis and shuttles as well as sponsor vehicles, a fleet of official Sundance vehicles and festival-goer traffic.

In an interview after the meeting, Beerman said there is "lots of unnecessary traffic up there." Beerman lives in Old Town and he and his wife are the principal owners of the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street. He pointed to traffic during Sundance on streets like Park Avenue, Woodside Avenue, Hillside Avenue and Daly Avenue. The drivers are looking for places to park or searching for shortcuts around the traffic, Beerman said. He said he has observed City Hall buses and Sundance shuttles stuck in the traffic.

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"Can we do a better job managing traffic?" Beerman asked.

It is not clear what sort of reception the idea will receive if it is pursued by City Hall. Old Town residents would likely support a measure meant to cut traffic in the neighborhood. Numerous logistical items would need to be addressed, though. If the elected officials want to consider possibilities for the 2017 film festival, work on the details would likely need to begin shortly given the potential for wide-ranging ramifications on the flow of traffic, staffing and related issues.