Letters to the Editor, Feb. 2-4, 2016
What a great challenge to have
It was very exciting to see a packed house at the recent Living with Wildlife Open House held by the Division of Wildlife Resources last Wednesday. When I first moved to Park City, I remember having a moose and her calf saunter right through my front yard on their way towards the nearby open space. I had recently moved from Maine where the moose is the state animal, and yet had never had such a memorable and intimate experience with the species. Many residents I’ve spoken with this week discussed their personal connections with our abundant wildlife and how distraught they are when these majestic animals are hit on roadways or have to be relocated or put down.
As residents of the Mountain West and neighbors of our abundant protected open space, we are faced with a challenge. We often have the privilege to interact with wildlife in our yards or on our commutes that many travel thousands of miles to see. The pressures resulting from this wildland/urban interface such as traffic, recreation and household pets often push wildlife into protected refuges such as Toll Canyon, Round Valley and Hi Ute Ranch. These preserves, while vibrant and beautiful, are missing many of the natural disturbances and apex predators with which they evolved and so occasionally they require intervention to ensure long term ecosystem health.
Utah Open Lands has worked closely with the Division of Wildlife Resources in the past to combat issues of habitat degradation resulting from severe wildlife overpopulation. Saving critical habitat from turning into the next cookie cutter subdivision is a great start and is why Utah Open Lands was started over 25 years ago. Our success in saving land has also brought the challenges of how to manage a place that is both necessary for wildlife and loved almost too much by those of us who venture out to explore and learn from nature. And so we must adapt, relying heavily on science, to assure our promise in caring for the landscapes that define Park City in perpetuity.
I am thrilled by the conversation that was started between the greater Park City community and the Division of Wildlife Resources on Wednesday and am looking forward to the future of this dialogue. Together, we can share our unique perspectives and collaborate on the challenge that is protecting the character and health of our beloved open space, but what a great challenge it is to have.
Rusty Milholland, Stewardship Director
Utah Open Lands
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Festival parking was an Uber disaster
I am a local and while not a long time attendee of the Sundance Film Festival, I have seen the exponential growth in attendance over the past few years. This year, however, with Uber a sponsor, there were not only Uber vehicles galore, but other local and outside transportation services vying for business. (And many of the Uber drivers were not familiar with Park City, contributing to the problem). This coupled with private vehicles, school buses, shuttles, normal business traffic and reduced parking opportunities, resulted in significant delays, traffic snarls and near gridlock in certain areas of Park City, One in particular was State Road 248/Kearns Blvd, especially during the hours the schools were starting and ending the day. Traffic was backed up well into Quinn’s Junction, most mornings.
Why couldn’t the city and festival organizers work with the County recreation facilities (at Quinn’s) to provide parking there, and shuttles then transport filmgoers into and out of Park City? Better yet, the newly opened Park City Film Studio (where was their presence at the festival?) has a HUGE parking lot that sat empty during the entire festival. Again a shuttle service could have been based from there. I would suggest film festival organizers approach the studio about this at the very least.
A problem venue is also The Temple Theater. Because of traffic issues, the shuttles were often delayed in getting to this venue. Those that drove their own vehicles had no place to park near the theater, and would often park on White Pine Drive, across S. R. 224 from the Theater. This highway is extremely dangerous to cross. Perhaps Vail Corp. should be approached, and their parking lot could provide some limited parking for theater goers. A shuttle would then deliver them to the theater.
Finally, the number of transport vehicles should be reduced. If parking can be restricted to permit only at the venues, why not the number of these vehicles? Perhaps permits should be mandated, or the cars restricted to deliver their patrons to certain areas, etc. During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the entire downtown area was closed to traffic and buses were used to transport attendees. Temporary stops were created, and traffic limited into venues. It was extremely well organized and I would guess there were many more people attending events than during Sundance.
As Robert Redford observed, the festival is getting overcrowded, and frustration is mounting. I think that the festival would lose a lot by breaking up into units, or multiple festivals operating during different weeks, and this would not necessarily alleviate the traffic problems. I think more offsite parking and vehicle reduction is key to managing the ever-growing popularity of the festival. Something has to change in upcoming years, if the festival is to continue.
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Festival waiting lines are barriers for the handicapped
Now that Sundance is over (my wife volunteered the last few years) I, as a fulltime resident have the following complaint:
I did not get to see any of the movies and I suspect others did not either.
I am handicapped. I wear a heart-saving device 24/7 called a Left Ventricle Assisting Device (L-VAD). Therefore I can’t stand in a line for one to two hours waiting to enter.
It seems odd to me that the theaters have handicapped seats and rows and the festival has over 2,000 volunteers. Surely Sundance can find accommodations for us.
Vincent J. Cole
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A reader says elected officials’ rejection of UDOT’s plan to widen S.R. 248 is “nothing short of irresponsible leadership.”