Guest opinion: The Park City I once knew is gone and isn’t coming back | ParkRecord.com
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Guest opinion: The Park City I once knew is gone and isn’t coming back

Peter Marth
Old Town

In 1981 I came to town concerned simply with having a roof over my head and a job to pay the rent, buy food and secure a season ski pass. Three ski areas within minutes of Old Town. Quiet streets, outdoor lifestyle and local color in a unique and authentic mountain town. The idea was to ski a couple winters, then get a real job.

Fortunately, the A+ winter conditions and summer/fall mountain lifestyle offered up the idyllic, affordable mountain lifestyle for the poor and athletic sports enthusiasts and struggling real estate agents. There was a two-lane highway out to I-80 and U.S. 40, just over 2,400 residents with a few thousand living out in the Snyderville Basin and a few houses dominated the viewshed. Today it is all built out due to our local governments’ typical ambiguous, apologetic application approval architecture. We eventually got run over despite our open space purchases and conservation efforts. It was something else living this long-gone, now out-of-reach lifestyle — it really was. I cannot emphasize enough the quality of of life and livability that already has been lost or how critical it is to admit today that these cumulative growth “compromises” and never-ending development threats are destroying the very fabric of our once small town community. We got what we asked for.

For years, after or during a winter storm, anyone who could actually ski powder and/or get a day off work waited quietly in the ski team lift line at 8:30 a.m. while ski patrollers worked their butts off. Ski passes were expensive, but you paid up. No Gore Tex , helmets or snowboarders in sight and maybe 25 skiers with 210 GS boards tuned and waxed by their owners who knew what lay ahead: lap after lap of un-tracked Utah powder, picking off all the best lines with your fast friends while waiting for the bombs to stop and the Jupiter access road to open. Then seven to 10 chairs in Jup all untracked, then an end-of-day boot hike to Jupiter Peak or McConkeys for the “goods” and you were home by 2 p.m. Mountain ski resort living at it’s best. Dogs walked around town by themselves for the most part, and Mormon mythology kept visitors to a minimum, though you could still get a stiff drink for a buck or so at restaurants if you brought your own bottle. Mount Air Cafe provided a reasonable $5 breakfast any time with real locals who didn’t ski. Zero electronics and a free bus system that worked. We had it all. No more.



Not to lament this vanishing lifestyle too much but living it then watching it quickly disappear often has me looking back at those moments in time. I can only hope it provides some context for newer, blissfully ignorant residents flush with big bucks hoping to capitalize on cool. What we had in hand and valued so much is now long gone, diluted to the point of being unrecognizable and impossible to recreate.

Today we are targeted for even more “Sustainable Industrial Tourism,” pushing an imaginary lifestyle lost years ago, oversold to the world and run down by more and more speeding vehicles. This community fought hard at every turn, attempting to save what we had, but unfortunately Big Money, greed, water importing, lawsuits and the endless advocacy from the Chamber/Bureau is quickly sinking this ship. The cumulative result is unfortunately a rubbing out of the true mountain lifestyle those of us lucky enough to have come here during a simpler time enjoyed for years. Today, the high volumes of distracted, easy-button users encased in their personal vehicles and rushing off to their next mountain experience is not sustainable in any way, nor is any further exploitation through development approvals. That’s just the way it is. RIP PC.




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