Guest editorial: Local activist group takes Park City Mountain Resort owners to task
December 30, 2016
In June, Vail Resorts told Park City to "wait and see," implying it would take time for the company's benevolence to reveal itself to our community. Lest Vail continue believing we're just bitter, anti-growth locals, it is important to recognize the good the company has put forth, including $50 million in resort improvements, hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to Park City non-profits through the EpicPromise program and millions contributed personally by CEO Rob Katz.
We continue to see happy and dedicated faces of the people who run the chair lifts, teach our kids to ski and make our winters what they are. This is not about them. It is aimed solely at the executives and spokespeople exacting a sociopathic corporate agenda, deliberately crafting duplicitous messaging and knowingly reporting lies and half-truths to the press.
Rollout of Park City Mountain's grand, new marketing strategy as "the largest ski resort in America" introduced the "There is only one" tagline and proclaimed the resort to be the #OneParkCity, despite it upsetting civic and business leaders. Adding insult to injury was Vail's decision to shorten the resort name to simply 'Park City' and attempt trademarking our town name for its commercial benefit.
Promises before City Council, news cameras and concerned citizens that Vail had no intention of pursuing trademark action against locals were lies. The company challenged Park City Lodging's eponymous trademark filing and threatened a local business owner to spend thousands of dollar and abandon her mark.
Vail's plan to choke out local businesses on the basis of trademark ceased when it abruptly ended negotiations with our Mayor and withdrew the PARK CITY mark, but in continuing to call the resort "Park City," Vail's online and real world development strategies continue facilitating the company's quick and unwelcome takeover of town.
Promises to clear up local brand confusion between mountain and town took public chastising and months to accomplish. Even now, numerous resort vehicles, signs and marketing materials are still missing the word "Mountain." Directional signage at the Cole Sport intersection remains as misleading as the bungled iteration Park City Mountain attempted the first time.
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COO Bill Rock claims he's "not sure how aggressively we're using" #OneParkCity, but the campaign appears in the overwhelming majority of Park City Mountain's social media posts, as well as trail maps and national advertising. With similarly blind eyes, the communications team publicizes the investments Vail claims to make in Park City's future, but sweeps under the rug significant campaign contributions company-funded Super PACs and CEO Rob Katz made to known climate deniers.
Rock claimed Park City Mountain is not treated fairly and implied the City didn't show enough gratitude for Vail's having upped skier counts last season. Yet for the increased vehicular traffic, heavier public transit loads and significant spike in affordable housing demand that came with that, neither Park City nor Summit County received a dollar from Vail to offset impacts. And still Vail expects the City to cough up $10 million for a resort base transit center.
Vail never spoke on the disastrous three-story berm that appeared on the Canyons golf course, nor did Park City Mountain apologize for the recent power outage they caused that impacted businesses all along Main Street and many homes.
Vail has created a palpable culture of fear among small businesses in Park City, and it's no secret most locals resent Park City Mountain's manner of doing things. It's time Vail learn its place at our table. There is only one Park City, and its people, brand and culture are not means to an investment strategy end. We are a proud and passionate community that Vail is welcome to be amicable part of, but we will not "wait and see" while everything we know and love is bought, pushed or priced out in one resort's continued exploitation of our town.