Guest opinion: Park City must push for a win-win outcome in PCMR project talks
I appreciate the process being used by the Planning Commission and staff to present and review the Park City Mountain Resort base area project and the inclusion and involvement of the public. The “Q&A” addition to the virtual meetings certainly provides an effective tool for addressing concerns in real time.
I support the efforts of Commissioner Suesser to hold the applicant accountable to the requirements of the Land Management Code (LMC) and to ensure that the applicant provides adequate justification under the LMC for exceptions being requested. I also support the commissioners’ requests to require Vail Resorts to commit to establishing binding agreements with regards to limiting ticket sales and the base area improvements that are essential to this project. The involvement of the county and other necessary jurisdictions in the transit issues is critical as well.
I am concerned with reliance on the information coming from the “professional consultants” without challenging or exploring the critical underlying assumptions driving their analyses. For example, the drop-off areas were a major discussion point in the last meeting. The basis for the calculated required spots was a 2-minute drop-off time. Were time studies made or did the 2 minutes result from a reverse calculation of the number of spaces that fit the project? What is the basis for assuming that none of the employee/affordable housing residents will require a parking space?
It was clear that the applicant has limited understanding of how the public will use the project when we heard the assumption that pedestrians will walk from the Shadow Ridge/Lowell intersection down Lowell to the proposed pedestrian passage to access the base area. The commissioners were spot on with their understanding that the public will seek out the most direct route.
The applicant’s traffic flow simulation may have been a “cool” use of technology, but was it even close to reality? What happens when we consider the kids being dropped off for programs on Saturday mornings with their drivers all targeting the same 15-minute drop-off window? Does the lineup of cars extend back to Park Avenue and prevent vehicles from continuing up Empire to access the other parking areas? How does the proposed pedestrian flow from the parking structures on parcel B get people to the main ticket and passholder windows? There are still many guests that need to access those services. Bike access to the trails heading out from the base area is critical. Again, it was obvious that the applicant does not understand this use nor the public’s need for bike access given that there were no proposed multi-use trails through the development from Lowell or Silver King to the open space where the trails begin.
Although building heights were not a topic for this last meeting, I do feel that it is one of the most critical issues. The applicant has requested dramatic exceptions to the LMC but has not adequately met the requirements that would allow the approval of such exceptions. The proposed building heights are more than double the height of most of the surrounding structures. I urge our planning commissioners to clearly state to the applicant that structures that exceed the LMC limits by more than three times are not acceptable. If the applicant truly sees the current proposal for building heights and design as their only acceptable solution, this proposal should be deemed a “no go” and the applicant should withdraw their application.
I do appreciate the efforts of all involved, including the current applicant, to listen, evaluate, modify and compromise, and I am not opposed to reasonable exceptions to the LMC. I do believe that it will require a team effort to create the “win-win” outcome that all should be seeking and that the community and our officials must insist upon. I urge the community to engage in this project and reach out to the planning commissioners and staff with your opinions.
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“As we hear about multiple developments that propose growth in terms of thousands of units, it makes you wonder,” writes James Duebber.