Tom Clyde: Getting stuff done
I didn’t pay much attention to the primary election this year. I live outside the city limits and can’t vote in its elections. It matters a lot to some of you, if the level of campaign spending is any measure. Candidates spending the price of a Subaru on a primary election in Park City seems a little off. But then everything is about half a bubble out of plumb these days.
It felt like the mayoral race was all about the very short lived “Black Lives Matter” mural painted on upper Main. It lasted a few weeks before the reality of climate and traffic wore it away. At the time, it seemed like an odd thing for Park City to do. In my view it was harmless, but unnecessary. With our tiny Black population, it just didn’t seem like a compelling local issue. There were and are more important local matters to work on. Improving social equity for our large Hispanic population would have been a more logical direction.
But it happened, and something like $15,000 in city money was spent on it. In the overall city budget, that is like the amount they spend on non-dairy coffee creamer. While the dollar amount was insignificant, it was an alignment with a specific national political movement. At the extreme ends of that movement, there are some pretty wild positions that reasonable people could find objectionable. At its core, the idea that Black people shouldn’t be shot over a broken taillight shouldn’t be controversial here or anywhere.
Andy Beerman took the brunt of the criticism, which ranged from reasonable objections to full Trumpian rage. I guess that comes with being mayor, but Nann Worel and Tim Henney are both on the City Council. It was a fumble, but probably not the issue that anything should hinge on.
To me, the issue that city voters ought to be looking at is whether stuff is getting done. Big stuff and little stuff. Important stuff and the kind of detail stuff that makes the place special. It’s really hard to get stuff done. There are always competing views on every decision, vocal groups in town wanting different outcomes or pushing different priorities. But for a long time, the city has been all about studying issues. And studying some more. In a quest for perfection, stuff isn’t getting done. There isn’t a lot of execution on those grand plans.
There is a terrible parking problem with the ski areas. It’s about to get a lot worse this year with the Epic Pass price cut, and the corresponding increase in volume. Carmageddon is coming in December. It’s been a growing and obvious problem for several years. The city has studied it. But there is no satellite parking that really works. The Ecker Hill lot is too far from the resort bases to work. It gets some use, but isn’t really intercepting the flow of Salt Lake traffic. It’s also a county project.
The city has the lot at Richardson Flat, but can’t figure out how to run a bus there. When the PEG project at the PCMR base is approved, and eventually something will be, the existing parking will be unavailable for a couple of years during construction. The problem we have now will be made worse. The same will happen at the Deer Valley lots. The pieces are all there — the parking lot exists out on the scenic tailings pond, there are buses running and roads built. It just can’t be that difficult to get the city and both ski resorts on the same page and connect it all.
The city talks about building a lovely transit hub at the arts and culture district. What they don’t talk about is how to intercept thousands of cars at the edge of town, and convince people to park (somewhere?) and transfer to a bus for the last couple of miles to the resort bases. That won’t happen at the arts and culture hub. There isn’t enough parking planned there. I know there are plans at Quinn’s. The file cabinets at City Hall are stuffed full of plans.
There is no pavement.
The owners of both resorts are hell bent on increasing volume. That’s the business they are in. Vail Resorts cut the Epic Pass price by 20%, and will make up the difference by selling more of them. We’ve seen over the last couple of winters what the Ikon Pass did to skier numbers at Deer Valley. Traffic and parking issues in the Cottonwood canyons are bad enough that diehard Alta skiers are switching to the Wasatch Back. There are no surprises here, other than the city watching it happen without implementing serious mitigation actions for the coming ski season.
If I were voting in the city election, that would be what tipped my decision: Who can get stuff done. We are choking on our own success. We need the municipal equivalent of a Heimlich maneuver, and instead are fixated on a mural that long ago washed into the storm drain of history.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
It’s not news that the Western fire scene has become complicated. The early 20th century days, when one response — extinguish by 10 am the next morning — was adequate are long past.
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