September 17 editorial
What’s that, you say, this editorial is a bit self serving? Excuse me, could you speak up, I’m getting a little hard of hearing.
Yes, much to our own surprise, certain staffers at The Park Record are getting on in years still sporting jeans and shaggy haircuts but accessorized now with bifocals instead of beads. And as we begin to consider the future, our options in Park City look pretty slim.
They are looking even more bleak this week as the Park City Council announces its support of a work-force residential project on a parcel once considered for senior-citizen housing.
City Hall recently agreed to loan the developer of a parcel on Woodside Avenue $1.6 million as an incentive to steer the project toward work-force housing. The land is close to the existing Park City Senior Citizens Center and the old Park Avenue Fire Station, both of which sit on city-owned property.
Years ago the property was touted as a perfect place to develop senior housing and/or an assisted living facility. One of those who supported that type of use was then-mayoral candidate Dana Williams who was also, at that time, a Realtor.
These days, though, even as Mayor Williams and his contemporaries (like us) creep through middle age and toward senior-citizen status, the clamor is for housing for those 20-somethings who come to town to work in the service industry, not wrinkled baby boomers planning their retirements.
The lot in question would, indeed be an excellent location for employee housing. It is close to the ski areas and within walking distance of Main Street’s vibrant nightlife. But it would also be a great local for seniors thanks to its proximity to the senior center, the library and the pharmacy at Albertsons.
Seriously, though, while we adamantly support the city’s and the county’s efforts to entice developers to build affordable housing, there is also an urgent need for affordable and handicap-accessible housing for senior citizens. We have seen too many old timers uprooted from their beloved Park City neighborhoods when they could no longer negotiate the steep hills or stretch their fixed incomes to match the rising property values. Many end up in facilities in Heber or Salt Lake City, isolated from their social circles and family members.
Perhaps this particular developer could explore building units that would be adaptable for both seasonal workers and senior citizens depending on need.
A lot of us who arrived as young seasonal employees in the 1970s were warmly welcomed by local residents who were about as old as we are now. These days they are warily watching the coming winter and wondering how long they will be able to stay. If we can find a way to make it easier for them to live out their golden years in the mountains, in a few years, it will be easier for us too.
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A longtime Park City activist expressed worries that another Winter Olympics could exacerbate some of the issues the community as of today struggles to address. Rich Wyman’s comments were some of the only public statements in recent months addressing concerns about the efforts to stage a second Games.