Record editorial: Parkites are bracing for the impacts of development on the horizon
If you’re a Parkite who is uneasy about the future of our changing community, you are hardly alone.
There seems to be an increasing amount of worry these days as residents wonder what the next five to 10 years — and beyond — hold for Park City. Looking at the amount of major development projects in the area that are moving forward or could be approved in the coming months, it’s no wonder people are feeling some anxiety.
There’s the proposed development of the Park City Mountain Resort parking lots. City Hall is preparing to possibly take the next step on its ambitious arts and culture district. The county is considering a proposal to build 1,100 residential units in a mixed-use project at the Tech Center site in Kimball Junction. Hideout’s controversial annexation, meanwhile, appears to have paved the way for a new town center at Richardson Flat. And that’s on top of the now-under-construction Mayflower Mountain Resort, the thousands of approved housing units surrounding the Jordanelle Reservoir and the likelihood that Deer Valley Resort will soon move forward with long-contemplated plans to develop the lots outside Snow Park Lodge.
Taken individually, most of the developments have components that would be beneficial to the community. They each should be evaluated on their own merits, and a blanket stance opposing development of any kind is as senseless as it is impractical.
Collectively, however, the projects comprise a stunning amount of development at a time when our infrastructure is already strained.
Parkites’ concern that the community would be unable to handle that kind of growth is well founded — especially considering the limited progress the city and county have made over the years on the most pressing issues we face.
Traffic congestion is bad and getting worse, with significant solutions years away if they come at all. Likewise, there is no end in sight to our affordable housing crisis despite many good-faith efforts to counter it. Parkites are also feeling the cumulative effect of growth in other ways, such as on crowded trails and in packed grocery stores, even in the shoulder seasons.
The problems are extraordinarily complex with no obvious answers, which is why they have proven vexing to staffers and elected officials at the County Courthouse and Marsac Building for so long. Yet the fact remains that the inability to solve them has left us in a hole that will become even more difficult to climb out of as some or all of these projects take shape.
Contrary to the wishes of some Parkites, there are limits to officials’ power to prevent the growth. The proposal for the PCMR parking lots, for instance, is based on an overall development approval granted in the 1990s, while Hideout will plow forward with its plans for Richardson Flat regardless of the concerns of its neighboring jurisdictions if the town’s residents back the annexation in a June referendum. And there’s no turning back the clock on the other developments in the Jordanelle area.
One way or another, more growth is coming, and residents are bracing for the impacts.
Park City has been evolving for decades. In that sense, perhaps we should be used to growth by now and resigned to the reality that the only certainty in our community, like in life, is change. But many Parkites these days seem to be sensing that we’ve reached an inflection point. The only question now is what our community will look like on the other side.
In 1942, two months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army and Congress approved construction of the same Alaska Highway that you can still drive today, if you have the time and grit. It was first used to transport troops and materiel to defend the Aleutian Islands from Japan’s invasion, but one of the remarkable things about the construction now is seeing archival film of it, as caterpillar tractors with dozers rip tens of thousands of trees out of the permafrost and toss them aside the 36-foot-wide road, without so much as a permit or a second thought.
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