Guest editorial: Change is coming to Deer Valley
Monday evening there was a Planning Commission meeting to review aspects of the Snow Park development proposal. The week before, Deer Valley hosted an Open House to present the broad strokes of that project. Here is what I learned.
Change is coming to Deer Valley. With vested development rights going back to when Deer Valley was developed, and revisited time to time over the past four decades, no one should be surprised that Snow Park will be developed.
What change will most likely result? I suspect it will be the way day-trippers use Deer Valley. While the hotel and condo units will produce some additional trips into town, this will be more than made up for with the number of Deer Valley residents that don’t travel to town quite as often because they have places to eat and things to do in Snow Park. It is likely that a significant number of skiers will linger after the lifts close to enjoy the offerings in the village. This will have a meaningful impact on traffic exiting the resort.
Another important lesson learned is that Deer Valley has really engaged the public during this process. The plan calling for reorientation of the traffic flow still remains but there have been numerous mitigations and improvements. Deer Valley has introduced an equitable flow of traffic between the Doe Pass Road entrance to the parking garages/transit center, and the hotel and drop-off zone. They have preserved multi-use recreational access around the project which will allow residents to recreate in the “Loop” as they currently do.
There were criticisms that the drop-off zone was going from six lanes to three. In the new plan, transit and drop-off are completely separate access points, as is day-skier parking. This may be an apples to apples issue here? Another concern was that guests of the 4- or 5-star hotel would take a limo from the airport, and then rely on ride-share or hotel shuttles once onsite. I am not sure hotel shuttles are the problem, and Park City did roll out a micro-transit” pilot program this winter, affectionately known as free Uber.
A calculation was made as to the value of the reduction in parking spots. It was guessed to be $22 million. The math should be questioned. The parking requirement was discussed and the request was for a reduction in spaces of 20%. We then learned that nearly all of the reduction was in the form of “Peak Day On Street Parking Spots” which only get used 10% of the time per agreement. If 20% excess capacity only gets used 10% of the time, then it only represents 2% of the capacity. I don’t know what the right number of spots should be, but the reduction being asked for really isn’t a 20% reduction.
The biggest takeaway? Park City has a traffic problem. When I left my house near McPolin Barn I put the meeting address into maps. I was given two options to 2175 Sidewinder Drive, 33 minutes or 36 minutes. This is a three-mile trip!
The problem isn’t 200 units in Snow Park. The problem is we have done virtually nothing to get visitors to Park City without a car. A guest without a car may use an Uber here and there, but will likely be in a car less if they don’t have one here with them.
More parking in Snow Park isn’t going to ease the burden on Deer Valley Drive, Bonanza Drive or Kearns Boulevard. It will take a dramatic and bold reimagining of transportation from the edges of Park City to do that.
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