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The Jordanelle Reservoir’s low level is ‘concerning’ but not ‘critical,’ official says

The Jordanelle Reservoir’s water level this spring is noticeably lower than normal. The reservoir is currently at 67% capacity, which officials say is worrisome, though not critical.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The beaches around the Jordanelle Reservoir have been growing and the grass appears to be receding farther from the waterline, the last 18 months of drought leaving a mark that can be plainly seen to drivers passing on S.R. 248 or U.S. 40.

Officials say the basin sits at 67% capacity and the spring runoff appears to be lower than expected, with the reservoir not predicted to hit 80% capacity this year.

That’s not the lowest the Jordanelle has been since it was filled in the mid-1990s, according to Paul Pierpont, the person who’s responsible for the reservoir’s operation and management. Pierpont said the reservoir has approached half capacity in the past.

“It’s always concerning on a dry year like this. The word I would use is concerning, but not critical,” said Pierpont, the Provo River area manager for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District. “Being the second-driest state in the nation, we have built infrastructure to get us through these times. Systems are doing exactly what they were designed to do: take these hits on dry years.”

Pierpont said he would consider the situation critical if the same conditions that have persisted for the last 18 months lasted another year or two.

Ranger Chase Pili, who helps manage Jordanelle State Park, said the low water level won’t greatly impact recreation opportunities at the reservoir this summer. The Jordanelle saw the second highest visitation of any state park last year, with the number of visits climbing by nearly 50% to almost 1 million in 2020, according to a state parks spokesperson.

Pili said that the Jordanelle is a relatively steep and deep reservoir, meaning the effects of lower water levels might not be as dramatic as in other places.

There will be less room for boaters on the reservoir, as its surface has become smaller, but the main boat ramp at the popular Hailstone launch site remains submerged, Pili said. The ramps at Ross Creek and Rock Cliff, however, are completely out of the water, leaving boaters and swimmers to walk down to the waterline.

Pierpont said the reservoir’s water level is typically at its lowest in late summer and that it continues to dwindle through the winter.

The Jordanelle provides drinking water to Wasatch, Utah and Salt Lake counties. It provides floodwater storage and contributes to maintaining minimum flow levels in some rivers, Pierpont said, so water is continually leaving its banks. That leads to relatively lower water levels than the Deer Creek Reservoir, its neighbor to the southwest. Deer Creek was nearly 85% full as of Thursday.

The Jordanelle is also a much larger reservoir, capable of holding more than 314,000 acre-feet of water compared to around 152,000 acre-feet in Deer Creek.

Pierpont said earlier modelling indicated the Jordanelle might fill to 80% capacity with snowpack runoff, but that now appears unlikely.

One contributing factor is temperature fluctuation in the High Uinta Mountains, Pierpont said, where much of the water that flows into the Provo River originates. When snow melts, the water first saturates the soil before running off into streams, rivers and reservoirs. If temperatures cool sufficiently between melts, the soils must be resaturated, leading to less efficient runoff.

Earlier this year, some data collection sites were showing the lowest soil moisture levels ever recorded, in addition to a low snowpack.

Pierpont said the system’s water infrastructure was built to withstand multiple dry years, and says he’s optimistic that wet weather will return.

The alternative, a condition of semi-permanent aridification, could imperil the region’s ski industry. Already, water providers are imposing restrictions meant to curtail water usage in response to the drought.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources is recommending Summit County residents and those who live in Cache, Rich and Daggett counties irrigate their lawns only once per week, the lowest recommended level in the state.

The agency defines irrigation as 20 minutes of watering with pop-up spray heads or 40 minutes with impact rotor sprinklers.

Oakley City has imposed a $10,000 fine for using culinary water to fill swimming pools or ponds, and on Wednesday enacted a moratorium on issuing building permits for structures requiring connection to the city’s water and a moratorium on installing new landscaping that requires irrigation.

Pierpont said that conservation will play a big part in managing the state’s water going forward.

“We’ve got to treat the resource as it is — very valuable,” he said.

Tom Clyde: Paid parking plans

They finally said it out loud. PEG Companies, the developer of the Park City Resort Parking lots, acknowledged that they will charge for parking at the resort if and when their project is built. The stated reason was to reduce traffic and encourage carpooling and transit. Worthy goals. It’s also realistic to try to recoup some of the costs associated with parking structures.

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.

Parking garages are hideously expensive. A contractor friend pointed out that the primary difference between a parking garage and a hotel meeting room is carpet. Otherwise, the costs of ventilation, elevators, lighting, fire sprinklers and pretty much everything else is all there. They aren’t cheap to operate.

In a normal situation, the ski resort would own and operate its own parking. It would make the decision internally about how much of the cost to absorb in the price of the lift ticket, and how much to charge ala carte. So far, there are no pay toilets at PCMR. The significant cost of building and maintaining the bathrooms is buried in the lift ticket. After last winter’s experience with those disgusting trailers, everybody appears to have resorted to “tree skiing,” so a pay-toilet system would not have generated much income.

On the other side, lunch is not included in the lift ticket. If you want to eat, you can buy what you want and pay for it in addition to the lift access. For all of Park City Mountain Resort’s nearly 60 years, parking has been treated like the bathrooms. When they convert to multi-level parking structures, owned by a third party, it will be treated like lunch. I don’t like it, but understand it. It is inevitable. Just one more case where growth is grinding away at the quality of life.

I’m personally the source of the problem, too. I meet up with a group of friends to ski. We all come from different directions. Trying to gather up for a carpool would have everybody driving several miles out of the way. Assembling the carpool actually generates more traffic, just in different neighborhoods. Instead, we all arrive in the American way, one to a car, and expect there to be a free, open parking spot waiting for us.

Not anymore. If the PEG plan goes forward (and with construction prices going completely nuts, the project seems more difficult than ever), there will be lovely parking structures staffed with employees who drive their cars from Salt Lake to collect the fee. I wonder where they will park. The option of fewer skiers is not under discussion. The Epic Pass price reduction is aimed at increasing skier numbers, largely driving from Salt Lake in this market. The developer says they want to encourage the use of shuttles that don’t exist.

That can’t be the end of the discussion. That is the beginning. PEG, as the developer, isn’t in the transit or shuttle business. They don’t have an off-site location for a remote parking lot. But before the city approves the development, that needs to be solved. The idea of using a shuttle service is not appealing. As much as I ski, parking fees of $20 a day would really add up. Using a free remote lot shuttle is at least conceptually possible. But it’s all conceptual. Parking at the ski areas has been a problem for several years now, and the city can’t move beyond the conceptual stage. Ultimately, something, somewhere, has to get paved. It will be ugly and nobody wants it in their neighborhood.

Where will the remote lot be? Who is going to pay for it? Who pays for the shuttle vehicles and the employees to drive them? How often do they run? How long do I have to wait in the theoretical remote parking lot with thousands of other skiers arriving at the same time to get a shuttle to the base of the resort? Show me how it works. Pour some concrete. Do something.

Before the plague, the bus system was a viable option within town. Whether riders will come back or not remains to be seen. The bus will always be slower than driving your own car because it stops frequently and takes a circuitous route to pick others up. The farther you get from the heart of town, the less viable it is. It doesn’t work from Salt Lake, Heber or Kamas. We are still dependent on private cars, and that isn’t going to change.

The discussion needs to focus on how the new parking/shuttle system will work. It’s a discussion that goes beyond the property lines of the parking lot property and the PEG application. It should involve the resort management, the city and the county with its new, redundant bus system. Deer Valley Resort is a year or so away from facing the same issue with its parking lot development plans. Maybe there is one remote parking lot and one shuttle system that is jointly operated and funded. Without a comprehensive solution, and actual pavement and real shuttle vehicles, charging for parking at the resort just pushes the resort’s problem on to somebody else. We can’t all park at Fresh Market.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.

Record editorial: Slow down and pay attention, drivers


Temperatures are warming, flowers have bloomed and Parkites — mountain bikes in tow — are flocking to trails that are drying out at the lower elevations. Spring in Summit County is in full swing.

Drivers need to slow down and pay extra close attention to their surroundings, though, even without the unplowed roads and icy patches of winter. The spring and summer months present numerous challenges of their own when you get behind the wheel.

For one, drivers must navigate a litany of construction zones, sometimes dodging poorly placed barrels and remaining constantly attentive for hard hat-clad workers or other hazards. Already, construction season is well underway in Summit County, most notably along S.R. 248 in Park City.

We also need to be vigilant for bicyclists, who are out in full force after a long winter and have just as much right to the road as drivers.

The unfortunate reality is most of us are guilty of occasional lapses when driving, whether it’s fiddling with the radio, taking our eyes off the road to tend to a child in the backseat or talking on a cellphone. But that’s playing a dangerous game — not paying attention for even one moment can prove disastrous.

More dangerous, still, is road rage, which seems to be an all-too-common occurrence these days. No one wants to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic in a construction zone, or be caught behind a bicyclist traveling under the speed limit. But take a deep breath. Listen to the radio and relax. You’ll get where you’re going, even if it takes a few minutes longer than you’d like.

Already this spring there has been at least one fatal incident in Summit County, involving a bicyclist in Coalville who was killed by a pickup truck whose driver told the authorities he didn’t see the victim as he turned into a driveway. The situation is a tragedy for everyone involved, and drivers must do everything they can to see to it that no one else loses their lives or is seriously injured on our roads this year.

Slow down. Keep your eyes on the road. And for goodness’ sake, the text message you just received, no matter how important, can wait until you’re parked.

Drivers have to share the road with others. This spring and summer, let’s make sure to do it safely.

Vaccination clinic for those 12 and older to be held at Eccles Center next week

Summit County residents still looking to get vaccinated can do so this coming Monday at the Eccles Center, with community members as young as 12 welcome.

The clinic is being operated by NOMI Health, and will run from noon to 8 p.m. Another clinic will be held June 7 at Eccles Center during the same hours.

The clinics were scheduled just a few days after the Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech for Americans as young as 12. That approval came May 10, with the Centers for Disease Control giving its stamp of approval Wednesday, opening the door for those 12-15 to receive the vaccine.

As of May 7, 20,960 Summit County residents were fully vaccinated. In an April 22 update, Summit County Health Director Rich Bullough reported the county is months ahead of its forecast vaccination timeline.

To schedule an appointment, visit nomihealth.com.

Letters, May 15-18: Say no to paid parking at PCMR


Say no to paid parking

PEG Companies and the Park City Planning Commission will be meeting shortly to discuss paid parking along with allowing an (approximate) 84-foot-tall building project which is currently zoned for 35 feet. What is in it for the taxpayers of Park City but the privilege of paying for parking?

Paid parking will increase traffic, not decrease traffic as PEG claims. Many of us will have family members, friends or ridesharing services drop us off and then pick us up. This would require two round trips to PCMR, not one. Please don’t forget the backups (which already are there) onto S.R. 224 and S.R. 248, which will get worse as there is a time factor to pay for parking. I urge the Planning Commission to vote NO on all exemptions for PEG unless they guarantee free parking for the taxpayers of the town of Park City and address the traffic issues.

Stuart Goldner

Park Meadows

*****

The waiting game

Hopefully President Biden will make nuclear deals with Iran and North Korea. However, it is equally to be hoped that he does not repeat the fatal flaw of the first Iran deal: It imposed a waiting period for the inspection of suspected sites. This would have allowed them to move the materials for making a nuclear weapon — such as enriched uranium — to a second site during the waiting period for the first site; then when the second site would come under suspicion, it would have a waiting period during which the material could be moved to a third site; and so on. (That is why a future president may cancel the deal again.)

Alvin Blake

Park City

*****

Leave waste where it is

I would say leave the mine waste where it is undisturbed. Fence it or cap it or otherwise mitigate it. Build the arts and culture district at Richardson Flat.

Jeff Zenger

Kamas

*****

Keep handicap-accessible bus route

I’ve been a longtime resident of Silver Springs, and it upsets me that the county is getting rid of the 7 Pink bus route, and changing it to some type of “on-demand” connector van/bus to other hubs.

I have a physical disability, and do not drive, so the 7 Pink bus routes have been, and continue to be, a godsend for me, allowing me to maintain my independence. The bus route is a five-minute walk from my house and, basically, connects me everywhere I need to go in the city. The proximity to public transit was one of the main reasons that my parents moved us into Silver Springs 17 years ago.

Another benefit of the 7 Pink bus is that it lowers, without needing to extend a wheelchair lift/ramp. I am quite short, 4-foot-10, so having the ability to get on and off the bus is a necessity for me. If you switch it to one of the “circulator” vans or something to that effect, I already know that I will not be able to get in and out without quite a bit of assistance.

Even though these vans have running boards, and handles to grab onto, they still aren’t low enough for me to get in and out of without a bit of a struggle, and I always need assistance from the driver. During COVID times, and after, I really don’t want to need someone to help me in and out of a van, when I should just be able to get in and out of a lowered bus by myself.

The High Valley Transit system website says that we have to identify that we have limitations ahead of time, so that they know how to help you if you need it. I really don’t want to have to explain it every time or have to advertise it on a “profile.” This singles out differently abled people.

I would really appreciate the chance to maintain my independence, avoid the pre-conceived judgment and need of assistance by having the handicap-accessible 7 Pink bus routes still run through my neighborhood.

Sincerely,

A very concerned, handi-capable Silver Springs resident.

Whitney Reid

Silver Springs

Writers on the Range: We blame the trees, but whose fault is it?

Just like you, I live with the fear of wildfire. My southern Oregon town of Ashland nestles against the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, whose forests become tinder in our hot, dry summers.

One lightning strike or tossed cigarette on the wrong windy day, and Ashland could be destroyed as completely as the town of Paradise, California, in 2018.

Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the Range.
Courtesy photo

This reality was brought home with terrifying force last September, when a wind-driven wildfire roared through the nearby towns of Talent and Phoenix, destroying over 2,500 residences in a matter of hours. Ashland was largely spared, but only because the wind pushed the fire in another direction.

Over the past several years, the city has implemented the ambitious “Ashland Forest Resiliency” project to reduce flammable fuels on thousands of acres of public lands. Tools in the Ashland Watershed include thinning and controlled burns. The project is considered to be a model ecological approach, not mere window-dressing to justify commercial timber harvest as is true of many “forest health” projects.

As a homeowner, I’ve supported the project, and as a conservation biologist, I’ve been impressed with how it’s been carried out.

Yet even as the city and its partners are diligently reducing forest fuels, more and more homes are being built in every nook and cranny of private land abutting the watershed. Many are McMansions commanding expansive views of the valley below. All these homes are at extreme risk of wildfire. As if the sense of crisis surrounding fuels reduction wasn’t enough, this adds another crisis, one we’ve made ourselves.

Recently, I took a favorite trail leading from the edge of edge of town into the watershed. I always look forward to walking through an avenue of small manzanita trees. In spring, their pink urn-like blossoms are mobbed by bumble bees and hummingbirds. In fall and winter, their berries — the “little apples” that give these shrubs their Spanish name — feed robins, thrushes and bears. Winter storms turn these groves into an enchanted labyrinth of green leaves, red bark and white snow.

Not this year. Not again in my lifetime. I found that this once intact and healthy wildlife habitat had been reduced to “defensible space.” The manzanitas had been harshly hacked back; those that had been spared stood isolated in a barren expanse of blood-red stumps. I counted the rings on one of the stumps, revealing that it had been at least 55 years old when we decided it was too dangerous to live.

The Forest Resiliency Project considered these manzanitas a threat because they were close to the city limits — and even closer to the big new homes being built outside the city limits.

They were sacrificed to increase our sense of security, and for no other reason. They were mostly healthy and important for wildlife. They shaded the soil and hosted mycorrhizal fungi integral to the nutrient cycles of the forest.

Yes, someday a wildfire would have burned here. But without our presence, that fire would not have been a tragedy, merely an episode in the long life of the land, and an opportunity for renewal. Manzanitas are well-adapted to fire; some species actually require fire for seed germination.

Oregonians take pride in being environmentally aware. Yet we accept the ecological destruction of the “fuels reduction” paradigm, rather than putting limits on our relentless expansion into the rural landscape.

Perhaps my town is becoming safer than it was before. But it’s questionable that any amount of “thinning” could protect Ashland from a wind-driven firestorm coming out of the watershed.

The fire that destroyed much of Talent and Phoenix, Oregon, like many of last summer’s devastating California wildfires, did not start on heavily forested public land.

Instead, it ignited and roared through a typical valley mosaic of creekside woodlands, orchards and residential neighborhoods. The hard truth is that for Ashland and many other towns around the West, avoiding catastrophic wildfire is as much a matter of luck as preparedness.

Still, we have to try, right? That means some degree of fuels reduction. But we must acknowledge the losses to the ecological integrity, the habitat value, and the beauty of this land that we love so much.

Pepper Trail is a contributor to Writers on the Range, writersontherange.org, an independent nonprofit dedicated to spurring lively conversation about the West. He is a conservation biologist and writer in Ashland, Oregon.

Trailside Park is set for a major expansion

The Snyderville Basin Recreation District purchased these 68.5 acres of land in 2019 intending to expand Trailside Park. Trailside Elementary School is visible on the left. Officials received a permit to convert 10 acres into an expansion of Trailside Park, including two new ballfields, pavilions and 127 parking spots.
Courtesy of the Snyderville Basin Recreation District

A major expansion to Trailside Park got the go-ahead from county officials this week, with work expected to start later this year to create two new ballfields, two pavilions, a large new parking lot and other amenities in the popular and often-crowded Snyderville Basin park complex.

The Snyderville Basin Recreation District in 2019 purchased the nearly 70-acre parcel of land across Trailside Drive from the existing park and adjacent to Trailside Elementary School. The land undulates downward as it moves east until it rises in a steep hill that forms a natural boundary with the surrounding neighborhood. It’s populated with sagebrush and a few well-used but unofficial trails.

Officials purchased the land intending to use it for a park expansion, and held a community open house last year to hone in on programming. The plan is to develop a 10-acre chunk in the southwest corner, closest to the existing park amenities, and to leave the remaining 58 acres for open space and possible future trails.

Snyderville Basin planning commissioners vetted the plan on Tuesday, focusing on the layout of the fields, the location of the paved trail that is often used by schoolchildren and whether the amenities would be enough to satisfy the area’s growth.

Comments from the public focused on the parking problem that plagues the area, with cars lining both sides of both streets on days of heavy usage.

Commissioners were asked to evaluate a conditional use permit application, which they granted, with one of the conditions of approval being that Basin Rec work with Summit County to post “No Parking” signs along the roadway.

Commissioner Crystal Simons questioned the field layout, noting the retaining walls and levelling work that would be necessary. She also expressed concern that the plan would impact the park’s use as a wintertime sledding hill and asked the consultant hired to engineer the site to consider that use in the plans.

“It’s a really, really heavily used part of the community, and so many people are going to be here,” Simons said.

The consultant said they had worked through many iterations of the plan and that moving the field to the east, as Simons suggested, could require more filling work to level the site.

In an interview Thursday, Basin Rec Director Dana Jones acknowledged the difficulty of the site as a location for ballfields — “It probably wasn’t the ideal place to put big flat things,” she said — but said the expansion would be a good addition for the community.

“We’re really excited about it,” Jones said.

Multipurpose fields were ranked as No. 1 in a 2019 community recreation needs assessment, while pavilions were ranked seventh, according to Basin Rec.

The plan calls for restrooms, a transit stop, a space for an e-bike station and 127 parking spots in lots positioned between Trailside Drive and the ballfields. The two entrances to the lots would cut into and cross a paved trail that runs parallel to Trailside Drive and is often used by children heading to the elementary school. The plan called for creating a new paved path behind the fields, to the east, that would loop back across toward the school.

It would require the district to secure an easement from the Park City School District, which commissioners imposed as a condition of approval for the permit. The other condition was a requirement that the fields not have lighting.

After the meeting, Jones said officials had hit upon a compromise that would allow them to loop the trail between the two fields, avoiding the parking lot entrances before rejoining the original path as it heads toward the school.

Commissioner Joel Fine focused his comments on whether the facilities would be substantial enough to accommodate the growth planned in the area. The nearby Silver Creek Village development is slated for almost 1,300 homes.

“I don’t want to see it back here in two years,” Fine said, asking whether Basin Rec officials had considered doubling the amount of planned amenities.

Jones said the plan corresponded to the district’s strategic plan and needs assessment, and that the district had plans to program acreage it owns in Silver Creek within the next few years.

She said the district hopes to solicit bids for the Trailside expansion in coming weeks, with construction to begin later this year and to be completed next spring.

Park City officials address contaminated soils facility, saying concept was not a secret

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council met in person on Thursday at the Marsac Building, the first live meeting by the full slate of elected officials since early March of 2020. The meetings were held electronically for longer than a year in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City leaders on Thursday addressed the concept of building a facility to store soils with contaminants from the community’s silver-mining era, focusing the discussion on the efforts to publicize the prospects of developing what is known as a repository and hearing from Parkites with questions about the concept.

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council did not address the details of the repository itself and instead spent time on the process undertaken by the municipal government. There has been concern in recent weeks about whether there was enough publicity and input from the public in recent months. City Hall staffers at the meeting outlined a public-relations effort that is planned to gather opinions about the project.

Steve Joyce, a member of the City Council, acknowledged that he was “caught off guard with this” as he spoke about the recent controversy centered on the concept of a repository. He said the project had been spoken about at previous public meetings. Joyce said if people had expressed worries months ago, the concept would not have advanced as it has.

“I don’t know how it happened. I mean, it wasn’t secret. It was public,” he said, indicating that “no one raised any flags.”

The mayor said he is confident officials will take the necessary time and gather opinions from the public.

The elected officials received input on Thursday regarding the publicity and the steps ahead.

Dana Williams, a former three-term mayor of Park City who dealt with the issue of soils during his administration, gave the public a “major bye” regarding the repository concept since so much attention in the last year was elsewhere. He said the 60-day public-relations effort crafted by Park City is not a long enough period.

Rich Wyman, a longtime Park City activist, acknowledged the spread of the novel coronavirus made it difficult for people to stay as involved as they otherwise would have been. He said the public should have been better informed and more efforts should have been made to engage the public earlier.

“I only heard about this two weeks ago, and I don’t think that it’s gotten the publicity that it should have gotten,” Wyman said.

He described that time is needed before decisions are finalized.

“Some of the comments I heard were 60 days to reassure people … That sounds like propaganda to me. Rather than to reassure people you want to take your time to include the public in this conversation and maybe this is not the right thing to do. So, you say you want to take some time just so you can reassure people — that sounds like you need some time so you can sell it to the people,” Wyman said.

The discussion and input on Thursday occurred as Park City officials have taken initial steps to build a repository on municipal land at the intersection of S.R. 248 and Richardson Flat Road, along the entryway.

City Hall wants to store soils containing contaminants from Park City’s silver-mining era at the location. Leaders say a repository is a better option than moving the materials to a facility in Tooele County. More detailed discussions by the elected officials are expected to be held later.

Backcountry opens first brick-and-mortar store

Backcountry opened its first retail store Tuesday in Kimball Junction, directly below the adventure gear company’s headquarters.
Courtesy of Backcountry

Worldwide adventure outfitter Backcountry calls Park City home, and now Park City is home to a first for the online retailer — a brick-and-mortar store, located below the company’s headquarters in Kimball Junction.

The store opened Tuesday, and includes a selection of Backcountry’s gear as well as owned brands like Stoic and Basin + Range, in addition to some items from other brands. Katie Hostetler, a marketing professional who has been working with Backcountry to get the store up and running, said distilling the limitless options of online retail down to what can fit in a physical retail space was “a bit tricky,” and will change with the seasons. For example, the store is currently stocked with gear for trail running, camping, water and biking activities. They didn’t want the constraints of the space to limit options for their customers, though.

“Backcountry has created an ‘endless aisle’ capability within the store, providing customers access to inventory out of the Salt Lake City distribution center with the option to pick up in-store the same day,” Hostetler said. “If they’re staying at a local Park City hotel, Backcountry will even deliver directly with its sprinter van.”

Hostetler said Park City made sense for the outfitter’s first brick-and-mortar store.

“It was an extremely natural fit,” Hostetler said. “The company has deep roots in Park City and couldn’t be more excited to continue to grow with the community that has made it the brand that it is.”

Hostetler said its proximity to the leadership team also allows Backcountry to use the store as a test space for new products and services.

As for why the company decided to open a physical store in the first place, Hostetler said having a store is a way for Backcountry to deepen connections with its customers.

“With this new retail space in Park City, Backcountry will further its ability to connect with the local community by providing the best gear and expertise for outdoor activities,” she said. “But also by prioritizing community building and engagement to give back and promote outdoor accessibility for all.”

Hostetler said Backcountry also sees value in showcasing its gear “off screen.”

Opening a physical store at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, when people have been shopping online more than ever, was a calculated decision.

“The pandemic has obviously brought on countless challenges for everyone but has also reiterated the importance of community connection,” she said. “Our team has worked so hard to build this store and create a space that will bring people together again.”

In addition to gear for sale, the store will also provide services like full bike repairs and tuning, as well as ski mounting and other basics in the winter.

“If a customer wants to build the bike of their dreams, they can come meet with Backcountry’s gearhead technician,” Hostetler said. “If they simply need an annual tune or an upgraded part, the store has that covered, too.”

Hostelter said Backcountry already has plans in the works for a second retail location, this one in Boulder, Colorado. She said they expect to open that one later this summer.

Backcountry’s first retail store is located at 1678 Redstone Center Drive, Suite 115 in Kimball Junction and is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays.

Summit County Library branches are open after a year of COVID-19 closures

Gaius Sessions, 5, right, and Roman Sessions, 2, read their latest literary finds at the Summit County Library’s Kimball Junction branch. All Summit County Library branches are now open for in-person browsing and computer use.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

After a year of curbside service,the Summit County Library has reopened its doors.

The Coalville, Kamas Valley and Kimball Junction branches are now allowing patrons to come in and browse the shelves and office equipment, said Library Director Daniel Compton.

“You can come in and use the computers, the printer, scanner and things like that, which were services we couldn’t provide during the pandemic,” Compton said. “We are still offering curbside pickup, because we know there may be some people who are not totally comfortable coming back into a public space or who haven’t been vaccinated yet, but people are welcome to come inside.”

The branches are open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Compton hopes to extend the hours during the summer.

“We are a little short-staffed at the moment, and we are working on filling those positions,” he said. “Once we do, we will open for longer hours.”

Masks are not required, but the library staff encourages patrons to continue wearing masks for safety, Compton said.

In addition, the libraries have limited computer usage to 60 minutes per day.

“We’ve had to reduce the numbers of computers in each location to ensure social distancing,” he said. “Usually people can access a computer right away, but people can also make reservations.”

The hour time limit is also a good guide for patrons to adhere to on their visits, Compton said.

“We also encourage people who come in to keep their visit to an hour or less if they can, but we know there will be some exceptions, and we will accommodate that,” he said.

The library branches will continue offering Wi-Fi accessibility in outdoor workspaces they set up last year.

“We also boosted up the Wi-Fi signal so people could work in their cars,” he said.

The Summit County Library branches were closed for exactly a year, according to Compton.

“We started doing curbside pickup and hold delivery on May 4, last year, and I remember that because it was ‘Star Wars’ Day,” he said with a laugh. “Then we opened May 3 this year.”

Even though the libraries were closed to the public, staff still accommodated patrons with curbside pickups, Compton said.

“We were very busy during the shutdown, because we have avid library users who came multiple times a week,” he said.

A few days into the pandemic, the Summit County Library also moved all of their storytimes for children to a virtual format.

“We recently stopped doing our online storytimes and programming, because we want to start doing storytimes outside in June,” Compton said. “We will partner with the Bookmobile and go to local parks.”

The in-building, in-person storytimes will hopefully start again in the fall, he said.

“We’re keeping an eye on things, so we’re playing things extra safe right now,” Compton said. “But it’s been great to have people come in again to enjoy that browsing experience. It means so much to us, but also I know the patrons are so excited to be back. It feels like we’re getting closer to getting back to normal again and that’s a relief. So we want to thank everyone for being patient and understanding over the past year.”

For information about in-person services at the Summit County Library branches, visit thesummitcountylibrary.org.