Park City’s onetime vision: ‘laid-back pace of life,’ ‘Seceded from Utah’
It was 2009, and the effects of the recession were visible even in Park City, a community that weathered the downturn better than many other places.
The community had moved beyond the halo of the 2002 Winter Olympics and had witnessed a stunning post-Olympic economic burst. There was concern about the future as people in Park City worried about the economic downturn and, at the same time, a growing community.
City Hall that year undertook what is known as a community visioning exercise, a broad look at Park City that tapped a spectrum of people as leaders and rank-and-file Parkites debated the future. The leaders wanted to learn how the citizenry viewed the direction of Park City, while the people of the community wanted to provide guidance as the leadership crafted that direction.
It involved numerous meetings, formal and informal, as well as debates about the past, present and future of Park City. City Hall hired a consultant to sort through the wide-ranging opinions.
Park City leaders are preparing to launch the first community visioning exercise since the one that was completed in 2009. It is proposed to start later this year with results expected in early 2020.
The results of the 2009 visioning provide an intriguing look at a population that remained worried about growth and a changing community two decades after the boom years of Park City truly started. Parkites seemed pleased they decided to move to the city but wondered what sorts of changes would influence them to pick up and leave Park City. They listed what made them proud of Park City and what about the community disappointed them. The consultant gathered the feedback through more than 450 interviews, 750-plus photographs and at least 345 comment cards.
The results show Parkites at the time were concerned with similar issues as they appear to be nowadays. Some of the results were likely influenced more directly by the recession than they would be today, but the findings of the upcoming efforts will likely be influenced directly by the economic uptick of recent years. And one of the key shifts in the community in the nine years since the 2009 visioning — the change in ownership of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort — would be reflected in the opinions that are gathered through the process in 2019 and 2020.
Some of the examples, listed anonymously and outlined in a report that was prepared in anticipation of a presentation in October of 2009, include:
• “We moved here in the 1990s — we loved the small town feel, quiet neighborhoods, laid-back pace of life — and of course, the skiing!!” in response to the question of what brought someone to Park City.
• “We looked at Telluride, Vail, Aspen and Tahoe. None offered all the things we could get here in Park City,” in response to the question of what brought someone to Park City.
• People here are approachable, diverse, and well-educated. There’s a little something for everyone,” in response to a question of what keeps someone in Park City.
• “Local color and nice residents. I know somebody everywhere I go in town,” in response to a question of what keeps someone in Park City.
• “If we get too many more gigantic resorts and developments that will bring too many outsiders. That’s not the Park City I chose to live in,” in response to a question of what would make someone leave Park City.
• “When the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ gets too big to be comfortable,” in response to a question of what would make someone leave Park City.
• “Every time we come together as a community to achieve something or overcome a hardship. That’s when we shine,” in response to a question of when someone was proud of Park City.
• “When we make the tough calls and sacrifices required to preserve Park City’s natural beauty and open spaces,” in response to a question of when someone was proud of Park City.
• “When we give in to developers,” in response to a question of when someone has been disappointed in Park City.
• “We’re only green until it’s inconvenient — until it hits the pocketbook…,” in response to a question of when someone has been disappointed in Park City.
• “I hope many different people can afford to live and work in Park City. I hope we are diverse — it’s a big part of what makes us different from other towns — like Vail or Aspen,” in response to a question of what someone hopes Park City will be like in 20 years.
• “Green. Fun. Prosperous. Honest. Diverse. Internationally Respected. Well Managed. No Leash Laws. Snowy. Tolerant. Friendly. Seceded from Utah,” in response to a question of what someone hopes Park City will be like in 20 years.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.