Skiers overwhelm resort parking lots
Once in a while, Linda Tillson watches from her workplace as someone parks their car, pushes their feet into ski boots and heads to the slopes.
But Tillson does not work at one of the city’s ski resorts. She is the director of the Park City Library, situated well off the slopes but, apparently, close enough to Park City Mountain Resort that people park there instead of at the resort if parking is tight.
"I have, on occasion, observed people putting skis in their car in the library lot," Tillson says.
The library, at 1255 Park Ave., is down the street from PCMR’s Town Lift and a few blocks from the Resort Center. Stairs near the library field deposit skiers and snowboarders close to the resort’s parking lot. Outside the library, skiers can board a free Park City bus to the mountain resorts.
This winter, as the local ski industry is enjoying a big year, skiers looking for parking on the busiest days have spilled into the neighborhoods surrounding PCMR and Deer Valley Resort, with the overflow around PCMR especially noticeable on well-traveled streets like Park Avenue.
At the library, there are not signs designating the parking spaces as only for patrons. That allows the skiers and snowboarders to park there if they cannot find a spot at PCMR, which has huge lots outside the Resort Center.
Library staffers receive complaints when the parking is full, but Tillson says skiers do not take up all the parking. She says she cannot estimate how many skiers are parking at the library and, in her six years directing the facility, they have occasionally parked there. Tillson says she is unsure if the practice is more frequent this ski season.
Brian Anderson, who manages City Hall’s parking operations, explains that the library spots and those at City Park, across Park Avenue from the library, are not regulated. He reports there have not been problems and says it has occurred "on occasion."
"I think what we see is creative parking up around the resort," Anderson says.
At PCMR, officials acknowledge that the parking lots will reach their capacity on some days. They are unsure how many parking spots the lots at the Resort Center hold.
When there are no more spots left, the resort’s parking attendants direct drivers to public lots, such as those at City Park, says Hubie Rosch, PCMR’s parking supervisor. They also mention private-sector lots, like at the Caledonian and the Marriott Summit Watch, both in the Main Street core.
On the busiest ski days, PCMR operates a shuttle to Treasure Mountain Middle School, allowing customers to park there and be driven to the resort. This year, through mid-March, as many as 21 cars have parked at the middle school, Rosch reports.
He says overflow at PCMR this winter has been similar to that in the past but may be dipping as more hotels and lodges operate shuttles to the slopes.
The area’s three mountain resorts are scheduled to close April 15. The parking situation in public lots and on streets did not appear as tight last weekend as it did in early March.
City Hall officials, with success, have long encouraged people to use the free bus system, which travels to the three local resorts. Still, though, lines of cars are seen leaving the parking lots at PCMR and Deer Valley at the end of each ski day, creating rush-hour traffic in the late afternoon.
There have been talks of building a park-and-ride lot on the outskirts of Park City, most likely off S.R. 248, but the plans have not advanced.
Traffic this winter, many Parkites say, has been the worst since they moved to the city.
Outside Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge, where the resort’s largest parking lots are located, holding 1,250 spots, skier parking overflows occasionally, including at least three times this month, Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley’s general manager, says.
When that occurs, Deer Valley directs skiers to park on one side of Deer Valley Drive, where the resort’s trams can serve about 200 additional cars. That occurs less than five times in a typical season, on weekends when local skiers head to the slopes, Wheaton says.
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.