Letters, Jan. 15-18: We paid full price for Epic passes but aren’t getting our money’s worth at PCMR
A nightmare at PCMR
Our family has been skiing Park City for many years. We even bought a home near the Silver Star lift, specifically so we can walk to the lifts. Unfortunately, over the past two years Park City Mountain Resort has either been very late in opening the lift, or, as occurred this year, has not opened it at all.
We can understand a lift or run not opening due to snow conditions, but that is not the case now, as we have tons of snow. Even if there were not enough snow to ski back down to Silver Star, you could at least run the lift so your guests can ride up and ski to King Kong to access the rest of the mountain.
We have been told the lift is not running due to a staff shortage. This is a crap excuse. There is no staff shortage, just a shortage of PCMR willingness to provide adequate compensation for lift operators. We assume if they increased the wages, they would increase staff to run these closed lifts. We understand there is a virus that has impacted the ability to bring in staff. On the other hand, this crisis existed when we paid the full price for an Epic Pass. Did Vail Resorts take our money knowing they could not provide what was paid for?
We have friends that have rented an expensive unit just to be near the Silver Star lift, and they can not access it. All the other guests in this vicinity are furious as well. The lack of this lift has also substantially impacted the business at the ski shop at Silver Star and the restaurant.
It is made even worse that you have closed the only other ways to ski down to Silver Star with Eagle and King Kong not running. PCMR has effectively closed off 1/3 of the mountain and has forced masses of guests to stand in long lines where there are open lifts. This is a nightmare. This is not the case at Deer Valley or Solitude, where we have experienced limited closures.
We hope Vail gets this fixed ASAP.
Nominees for the Hall of Shame
I have three nominees for the 2021 Park City Hall of Shame.
1. Vail Resorts has been negotiating a contract with ski patrollers since 2020. Vail claims they pay typical industry standard wages at their resorts. These highly skilled professionals are first responders to accidents and on mountain emergencies, saving lives and keeping us all safe.
During this same period Vail’s stock has risen from $180 to close at $327.90 on Dec. 31.
A daily lift ticket at PCMR for Jan. 1 was over $213, almost enough to pay the salary of two patrollers for an entire day. PCMR likely had over 15,000 skiers that day. I think they can afford to pay patrollers more, especially after selling 40% more Epic passes.
2. Dakota Pacific Real Estate recently proposed an 1,100-unit development below Utah Olympic Park in Kimball Junction. They apparently purchased this distressed project at a bargain price when the developer was unable to attract technology companies to the site. Has anyone seen Salt Lake City’s growth in technology? Has anyone seen any marketing of this site?
Has anyone seen a huge sign facing S.R. 224 saying “Locate Your Technology Company Here”? Countless entrepreneurs and vacationing tech executives might have seen it. Our county government could have offered financial incentives to attract high-paying jobs. The project offered nothing to residents but increased congestion in an area experiencing major gridlock. Our county councilors forgot they were elected to be representatives of their constituents. Thankfully hundreds of people attended a public meeting in person and via Zoom. The residents were overwhelmingly opposed and it appears the application will be resubmitted.
3. PEG Companies is developing the PCMR base area. They are planning to develop approximately 1 million square feet.
They are requesting a parking reduction from what the code requires. Has anyone tried to park at PCMR lately? It’s almost impossible to find a space to park now. Why would the city even consider such a ludicrous idea? We need a comprehensive master plan for development, transportation and affordable housing before any large developments are approved.
Mask up on the buses
As a regular user of our wonderful bus network I am very concerned that the discipline of mask wearing has almost completely broken down. I suspect this is mainly due to a simple lack of awareness on the part of infrequent riders and those visiting town.
The notices on the bus entry doors stating that riders must wear masks are not visible when the doors are open and there is no signage at the bus stops reminding/telling folks to mask up before boarding. Once on board, even if they have one with them, many find it difficult to put a mask on (not easy to do when wearing a hat or helmet, holding skis or a board and maybe standing up).
I believe that adding signage and mask dispensers at the bus stops (or at least the key ones, such as the high school overflow parking, the park-and-ride lots and at the resorts) would help a lot.
The prerecorded announcements are also pretty inaudible in a full bus. Either upping the volume and frequency of these and/or having the drivers use the PA to remind folks would help (at least by letting willing non-comformers know and be prepared for their next bus ride).
The lack of mask wearing is leading this resident and voter to avoid the bus whenever possible, thereby adding one more car to our crowded streets — exactly the opposite of the behavior we want to encourage.
The pillaging of Park City
It is time to stop the pillaging of Park City by greedy corporate interests. PEG Companies’ development of the PCMR parking lots is NOT in the best interest of Park City.
They will make Park City look like Vail, which is a total disaster and geared only to transient tourists.
If PEG says they are adding 500 new employees for the completed project, PEG should be tasked (as a first step) with building housing units for at least 250 of the employees and parking with subsidized bus service for the balance of the new employees.
The existing model does not consider any parking for residents who are not a reasonable distance from a bus stop while dressed for skiing. On-street parking is prohibited in the winter, and it does not make sense to drive to Kimball Junction to get on a bus. More traffic and more pollution. Parking spaces need to be added for Park City residents that are available at no cost or a nominal fee — perhaps a sticker on the windshield for property owners.
The structures are way too tall and will eliminate the view for most Park City residents of the mountain. In addition, they will obstruct access to PCMR year-round.
Just consider what Vail Resorts has done this year with the resort. They didn’t hire enough groomers. The result is the concentration of all skiers to lifts that support the few groomed runs with long lift lines. I talked to an individual in operations in Vail’s management team and their response was, “We are a publicly traded entity and answer to our stockholders. We are controlling cost.” That is the same mindset as PEG.
PEG will destroy Park City for the sake of a profit. Stop this project now and use the Land Management Code to control this and all other projects — including Deer Valley’s.
Pony up for patrollers, PCMR
If you are wiped out on a ski run at Park City Mountain Resort looking down at your broken leg — or worse, your child’s — do you want to cross your fingers that a trained doctor happens to ski by and help you?
Or would you rather have experienced, trained, professional ski patrollers respond to you immediately?
I think we all would prefer a member of the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association be there for us.
These patrollers show up no matter what the weather and snow conditions to help stabilize the injured and get them safely off the mountain. I doubt that any of us in the above scenario would be grateful that they are the cheapest patrollers Vail Resorts’ money could buy.
Yet that seems to be what PCMR’s corporate ownership wants for us guests and customers given the long-running labor dispute with the ski patrol union that’s been covered by this publication.
As we all know, you get what you pay for.
As a recently retired Detroit-area police officer, I worked my 25 years in public safety as part of a union. Through my union, we were able to negotiate a good living wage, health care for our families and compensation for work-related injuries. The union also protected us from any unfair labor practices by the municipality.
Ski patrollers are not much different than the public safety officers. For those of us lucky enough to be skiing and snowboarding here, they create a safe environment through avalanche control, out-of-bounds markings, obstacle awareness and mitigating bad on-slope behavior by skiers and boarders not following the rules.
And most importantly, if you need medical attention, they are there to help and potentially save lives.
Thanks to Vail’s stinginess with pay, these patrollers are there for fast food-worker wages.
I urge you to support the patrollers who work hard day in and day out, in any conditions so that you have a safe on-mountain experience and who provide quick professional life-saving care if you or a loved one unfortunately need it.
It is shameful to me that Vail wants to provide us, the customers, with the cheapest possible version of that service.
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
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