Will Sundancers pay for parking?
Park City Municipal is considering charging $300 per parking space for 300 China Bridge slots during the Sundance Film Festival this January to help alleviate traffic congestion during the event a program which might also affect Main Street workers’ parking expenses.
The paid parking during the festival would net Park City more than $50,000 after paying additional city workers to supervise the lots, according to Park City City Manager Tom Bakaly.
Brian Anderson of Public Works presented the paid parking concept to council member Thursday evening, along with a request they continue the employee permit and four-hour time-limited Swede Alley parking program.
The parking program’s consistency since the city "freed Swede" in 2003 has decreased the amount of complaints Public Works has received, Andersen said.
Yearly $75-employee permits buy Main Street workers the license to hunt for spaces in China Bridge or Gateway’s parking lot. During the proposed Sundance guaranteed parking program, employees could opt to upgrade their pass for $225, or search 177 spaces typically designated as free spaces on Marsac Ave. and the top of China Bridge.
Special Events Coordinator Alison Butz said the city plans to organize multiple shuttles to Deer Valley lots to give employees other options.
Ken Davis, owner of Cows and president of the Historic Main Street Business Alliance (HMBA), said he could see both employer and visitor perspectives. He determined that council’s best interest would be to act on behalf of the Park City visitor, who wouldn’t mind paying for parking.
"I’ve been a tourist since 1974 and I would not mind one iota paying for a meter to park. In New York City, I used to pay $60 for three hours to park in mid-town Manhattan," he said. "My belief is that if you should focus on the tourists who make it possible for us all to work here in town."
As an employer, however, Davis called the four-hour time limit spaces on Swede "employee parking." Employees simply change spaces at lunchtime to avoid the fee. The $75 permit did not deter his employees from parking in the more convenient parking spaces, which Davis said should be reserved for customers.
"If you want to make changes, my suggestion is that you do away with the permit and made the most undesirable parking spaces 12-hour spaces," he told council.
Bakaly replied that the city had spent 10 years developing its time limited parking on Swede Alley and the employee permit plan.
In response to the cost of the 10-day Sundance parking permit, Council member Candace Erickson recoiled at the idea of charging hourly workers hundreds of dollars to get to their jobs on Main Street.
"I have a problem with penalizing workers on Main Street [during the festival]," she said. Other council members suggested a hybrid concept, which would free up more spaces for employee parking. Colin Hilton, who directs the city’s capital projects, countered that in order to mitigate traffic, all China Bridge lots needed to be sold, otherwise, Swede Alley will continue to be just as congested as it has been at previous festivals.
Council asked staff to look at raising meter rates during the festival in addition to reducing festival parking penalties from $150. Council also suggested the HMBA form a committee to decide what would be best for their businesses.
Hilton told The Park Record that though crews will not be opening the first two floors of the new Swede Alley China Bridge parking structure until mid-December, the city will open 20 spaces in the lot behind the Park City Historical Society and Museum by Thanksgiving.
Hilton estimated 40 to 50 percent of the project has been completed. City Hall expected the structure to be finished sooner, but a worldwide concrete shortage delayed the completion date, he reported. According to Hilton, there has been an unexpected demand for cement in China, the Pacific Rim and those working on restoring infrastructure in natural-disaster zones.
Jacobsen Construction will continue to work on the building on aspects that do not require cement, such as forming walls and sidewalks.
"We feel comfortable saying we’re on target for the first two levels, but we cannot say exactly when the entire building will be complete," Hilton said. The partial opening, scheduled for Dec. 16, will open 100 to 120 parking spaces in Old Town, which will add a few more spaces than Swede Alley has had in the past. Finishing touches like the elevator will not be available until the building is complete. The city anticipates the entire parking lot will be complete by January’s film festival. The new China Bridge expansion will add 277 parking spaces to the Main Street core, bringing the total number of city-managed parking spaces to 1,300.
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