The Park Record editorial, July 31-August 3, 2010
A lot of energy goes into wrangling contracts for summer events in Park City and Summit County. The rationale is that those events draw both participants and spectators, thereby filling rooms and restaurants during what was once considered a slow season.
But the cat’s out of the bag. These days, the area’s cool mountain air, lush scenery and treasure trove of trails and sports facilities draw multitudes from all over the world much to the delight of local business owners. From fast-pitch championships and cycling races to wine and art festivals, Parkites play host to, and often participate in, marquee events every weekend.
The upside is a stronger year-round economy with a more diverse base. But there is a price to pay for being so busy. Many of the events require road closures and/or special parking considerations. They also overlay an already fast-paced time of year for public safety personnel who see a huge uptick in activity in areas that are mostly dormant in the winter months the state parks and national forests.
Add to the mix a few ambitious road reconstruction projects and there are legitimate concerns that the safety of local residents and visitors could be jeopardized. At the very least, some worry that the resulting traffic and crowds could compromise the reasons people are drawn to the community.
The key is finding a balance that works for residents, merchants, visitors and, importantly, for law-enforcement and public-safety personnel.
Summit County and Park City representatives, from staff to elected officials work hard to achieve that balance with sophisticated permitting rules, careful oversight and consistent enforcement. But that process requires constant fine-tuning along with constructive public input.
Ultimately the community’s success as a destination resort for both relaxation and excitement will depend on a cooperative effort to ensure that local services are not overwhelmed by special events. That means taking an unapologetic stance when issuing permits and enforcing them. It means planning ahead to avoid conflicts between road construction and event crowds. And it means listening to and addressing any public-safety concerns aired by local police, sheriff or medical personnel.
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