Snow Park project supporter sees a silent majority backing Deer Valley’s efforts

Correspondence to planning panel wonders ‘what the big fuss is’ about road concept

Talks are continuing about a Deer Valley Resort concept to develop the land where the Snow Park parking lots are located. There is resistance in the area around Snow Park, but a correspondence released by City Hall shows there is at least scattered support for the concept as well. | Jay Hamburger/Park Record
Jay Hamburger/Park Record

Deer Valley Resort’s efforts to remake the Snow Park base with a major development have drawn criticism for more than two years, as questions have especially been raised about the possibility of increased traffic and a desire by the resort to alter the traffic pattern in the immediate area of the base.

Testimony at City Hall meetings has tilted heavily toward the critics, and Park City’s elected officials appear to have questions about the municipal government vacating sections of road at Snow Park, thus removing them from the Park City street map, to advance the concept.

Late in the morning on July 10, though, a Silver Springs resident sent an email to the Park City Planning Commission addressing the Snow Park discussions. The correspondence from Bruce Emerson is a rare example of someone expressing support for the Deer Valley vision for Snow Park. The email — two pages in length and released by City Hall as the discussions continue — provides evidence of support, albeit perhaps sporadic, for Deer Valley’s efforts.

The opponents of major development proposals in Park City over the decades have typically largely controlled the public discourse, and that has been the case to date with Snow Park, but comments like the ones made by Emerson in the correspondence highlight that the entirety of the public is not in lockstep with the opposition.

Emerson, who acknowledges he is a part-time mountain host at Deer Valley, says in the correspondence he becomes “a bit frustrated” with “how contentious everything has become in our town.”

“Please use facts, logic, and common sense as you work through this project and try to keep the public outcry in perspective,” the correspondence says. “I think it is a vocal minority that does not want, or fears, change to the status quo. That is why I’m writing this email, to make sure that you hear from the silent majority.”

Emerson outlines his views of some of the issues related to the concept at Snow Park. His comments include:

• “Traffic will increase as more people come to Deer Valley. However Deer Valley caps daily lift tickets, so DV is not going to see unlimited increased numbers of skiers like we have seen at PCMR.”

• “Currently there are very few apre ski options at Snow Park. With more apre ski options and spreading traffic over a 2 hour period, vs. everyone leaving at 4PM, this will enhance flow through town.”

• “It seems to me with road improvements to lanes and lights, this should enhance the flow of traffic vs. the free for all that we currently have.”

“I’m struggling a bit to understand what the big fuss is,” he said about the prospects of City Hall vacating the sections of road.

The discussions about the municipal government vacating the sections of road are crucial since the broader concept for Snow Park appears to hinge on the decision about the roads. City Hall under the scenario would vacate parts of Deer Valley Drive West and Deer Valley Drive South. Deer Valley, meanwhile, would dedicate Doe Pass Road to the municipal government as part of the overall traffic circulation designs.

Opponents have raised issues like whether traffic increases in the area of Snow Park can be managed and the impact on livability. Deer Valley counters that the vacation of the road sections would lead to better designs for the development. Mayor Nann Worel and the Park City Council continue to consider vacating the road sections, and it is not clear when the elected officials will cast a vote.

There are development rights attached to the land at the Snow Park base dating to the 1970s-era overall approval for what would become Deer Valley. The resort, though, must secure another key approval prior to the launch of any development at Snow Park.

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