Letters, April 21-24: Park City must better manage growth
City must manage growth
For 21 years I have been a full-time resident of Park City and my concern for its viability grows. As we endure another power outage in Park Meadows of over 16 hours, I ponder the impact of all the proposed development in Park City proper. Between the PCMR parking lot project, Deer Valley village development, the arts district proposal and the school district’s long-range expansion within Park City limits, I fear we soon may look like midtown Manhattan.
It is time for someone in the city government to stand up and STOP all of this unsustainable growth. Where will we get the water, sewage treatment, police, fire, city services, broadband capacity and green power? How will we stop the gridlock that will result from all this expansion? Park City residents are already indebted for over $400 million!
Bus service will not be enough. There will never be enough affordable housing. The only long-term solution for housing will be massive multi-story buildings that no one wants. Just because something was approved in the prior century does not mean developers should be allowed to do it.
The guest editorial by Sundance in this weekend’s Park Record just highlights that Park City government is not looking out for residents. Sundance should put its money where its mouth is and buy into the project. The arts district, Deer Valley and PCMR developers should do a joint environmental and infrastructure impact study to tell us how they will deal with those issues. The Park City Planning Department should be included in the process. The developers will profit from these projects and need to pay for the necessary improvements.
Park City government should get out of the development business and sell the arts district land to a qualified developer and start to manage sustainable growth.
Parking solutions needed
After reading The Park Record indicating Deer Valley is now seriously talking about a large development project in the Snow Park parking area and Park City Mountain Resort also talking about a large development in its lower parking lot, the obvious question to me that has come up is if construction begins in the summer of 2022 at both resorts, where are skiers going to park? I’m sure the planning department and committees involved will raise this issue and hope that an approval is conditioned upon coming up with a logical and efficient plan.
As I drive by Prospector and see the former buildings that have been torn down for the proposed arts district, which is facing financial issues to fund, it seems a good alternative would be to turn this area into large parking lots that can serve the resorts while parking garages are being built and a final plan for the arts district is determined. An effective bus system could be utilized to bring people to either resort to mitigate some of the parking issues that are going to occur. Also, an efficient bus system from Richardson Flats parking should also be considered, regardless of the final development plans at both resorts. It is an underutilized parking lot area that needs to become a solution to parking at the resorts.
Just my thoughts. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what results.
Transit in need of reform
One of the “cute” things that happens to locals in Park City is that when you are riding the bus during tourist seasons, about nine months of the year, you are assumed to be a tourist. Bus drivers assume you don’t know where you’re going so they eagerly intercept you to correct your “mistake.” If you, yourself, try to offer directions to a lost tourist, they are often dismissed because you are assumed to be just another lost tourist. At first it seems innocent enough but after it goes on for months and years it becomes irritating, and a disincentive to ride the bus.
This is one of the many situations that reminds us that Park City Transit is and always has been a free tourist/employee shuttle for the resorts, with service to locals for other purposes an accident or afterthought. This is not a controversial statement. It meets wide agreement and the following question is always to the effect that why are taxpayers subsidizing resort transportation — shouldn’t that be a resort responsibility?
Yet, we keep subsidizing it. Every local transportation dream has Park City Transit in expanded roles moving tourists around. It’s one of the charming cognitive dissonances we indulge in here. Park City government has already recognized this is a financial problem and has backed off transit beyond its borders. Eventually it will become a financial crisis and I predict Park City will eventually bid to get out of transit entirely, handing it over to the new regional transit authority.
My hope is that the growing broad recognition that the arts and culture district, as currently conceived, is an anachronistic subsidization of industrial tourism, will extend to public transportation and spur a large reform there, as well.
Why hide the truth?
From a recent article published in The Park Record, we learn that “A bill that would require Colorado ski areas to share safety strategies as well as statistics revealing injuries and fatalities didn’t make it out of a committee vote Thursday. The legislation faced stiff resistance from the ski industry.” It is no surprise that the ski industry giant behind this resistance was Vail Resorts. This failure comes right on the heels of Vail’s war on ski patrol attempts to strengthen union efforts here in Utah.
A professional and open discussion of both strategy and tactics appears to frighten the huge elephant in our expanding “quaint village.” Why hide the truth about safety on the mountain and the courageous people out there each day dedicated to realizing that safety?
Transit system must be usable
As someone who rides our incredible bus system frequently I’d like to post some observations and suggestions. I happen to be lucky regarding an on-mountain locker, eliminating the need to transport ski equipment, so I have no dog in this fight. But I’ve recently seen letters regarding the proposed route change ending the No. 7 bus through Silver Springs. I’ve occasionally seen groups of people from this neighborhood using this line with ski gear to get to the mountain and applaud their efforts to eliminate another car on the road.
If the county’s plan is to use circulator vans through this neighborhood and others, they must be more akin to those used by hotels with a driver-operated entry door and a ski/board rack on the back. It could then go as far as the Canyons stop as well as the Kimball Junction transit center. I sometimes ride the “wave me down” bus as well and find the sliding door to be difficult to operate (I’m old, though still in pretty good shape) and the barely-there running board step to be somewhat dangerous. Circulator vans make great sense through neighborhoods, but the county needs to step up with the right equipment to make them work.
Traffic has certainly become a major issue and the better we make our transit system work, the more people will make use of it. Another item associated with making it easier to use is walkability. Enforcement of sidewalk/crosswalk clearing in winter is lax, as well as sidewalks used for snow storage and those that lead to dead ends forcing pedestrians into streets or parking lots. If we truly want to encourage mass transit, more effort needs to be focused on pedestrian traffic as opposed to vehicles. There’s been a huge increase in pedestrian accidents, and we must get serious about protecting those of us who make a serious effort to be one less car on the road.
Farewell, Park City
As my wife and I prepare for our move back to the Washington, D.C., area, it is time to say goodbye and thank you to the many people we have gotten to know during the seven and a half years we have lived in Park City.
It is never easy to say goodbye and to move away from a place where you have been happy. We are moving to a 55-plus community in Virginia where all outside maintenance will be taken care of, and which is close to our daughter’s home and to other family members. Our current home and its large yard takes a lot of effort to maintain. Although I have received excellent help from the doctors and dentists here in Park City, most of the doctors with whom I have long-term relationships live in the Washington area. Moving there makes it easier for me to see them.
Although this past year has been a struggle because of the virus, we have enjoyed our time here, and we will miss our neighbors and friends. We have enjoyed the skiing, local restaurants and beautiful scenery. I will greatly miss the camaraderie with my friends at the Park City Community Church.
I will also miss my golfing friends at Soldier Hollow, and my wife will miss her quilting groups and dog showing friends.
I want to express my appreciation of the service that The Park Record provides in informing the community of political and business decisions here.
You do a good job of keeping us informed in an unbiased manner. There are a lot of important issues that need to be addressed concerning transportation, schools and development. None of these will be easy to resolve. It is my hope that the community is open minded and forward thinking as it plans for the future. Incremental fixes tend to be easier to implement rather than large-scale, expensive solutions, as we learned most recently when the 2015 school bond was defeated. Changes are coming to Park City. I hope the community will succeed in managing these changes in an efficient and sensible way.
F. Joseph Feely III
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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…