Park City Was Already Vail — It Just Didn’t Have the Name

In the wake of Vail’s takeover of PCMR, there was a common reaction, “this isn’t going to be the Park City we used to know anymore.” It was lamented that Big Corporate Vail was going to strip the essence of the Park City and replace it with resorts for the rich, expensive homes, celebrity-only events, and lots of outsiders. Ummm…

The truth is that this already isn’t the Park City that mine workers remember from the 1960’s, or the Main Street from the 1980’s, or the run up to the Olympics of the early 2000’s. Park City was already Vail, it just didn’t have the name. It’s funny, if we would have paid attention to what has been going on around us for years, we would already know that. There is no better way to illustrate that than with the Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance, or as it was called at the time, The Utah/US Film festival, began in 1978 in Salt Lake with the Robert Redford and the Utah Film Commission behind it. “The goal of the festival was to showcase strictly American-made films, highlight the potential of independent film, and to increase visibility for filmmaking in Utah.” Films like Deliverance, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Midnight Cowboy were inaugural films in the festival. In 1981 it moved to Park City and officially became Sundance in 1984. By 2010 critics were charging that the festival was no longer about small-budget, independent creations from outside the Hollywood system but instead was a media extravaganza for Hollywood celebrity actors, paparazzi, and luxury lounges set up by companies not affiliated with Sundance.

Much like Sundance, Park City had become unweidly. No longer was it about the Utah Film Festival or about promiting Utah films, it was about seeing Van Wilder Ryan Reynolds ride his scooter to Silver. It was about which celebrity did you see. It was about parties you could never get into. It was a place for the rich and famous from LA to vacation for a couple of days with their cohorts. That’s all fine, but it is not the Park City that people remember.

Then in 2010 Banksy, a renowned graffiti artist, came to town. He had a film called Exit Through the Gift Shop playing Sundance. Banksy has a way of telling it like it is. He is famous for quotes like “We can’t do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves.” When his film was nominated for an Oscar he noted, “This is a big surprise… I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.” It’s all tongue and cheek but yet telling.

During Sundance 2010 Banksy spent his time tagging 10 sites in Park City and SLC with graffiti. That is what he does. Park City was doing what it does and was on its way to becoming Little-Vail. By then Sundance was bringining in $65 million per year into local economies. Within days of the graffiti, two things happened. The Park City you used to know and love did what you would imagine it would do, and cleaned and painted over the graffiti found on some of its walls. The new Park City was ready to exploit the opportunity. One of the Egytian Theater’s doors was tagged with an image of a rat. They took the door down and put it in storage.

Three years later, they lauched a Save Our Banksy intiative where they want $3 million from Park City locals and Banksy Lovers so they don’t have to auction the art off to a wealthy art collector. What would Banksy probably have preferred? Just leave the door on the wall and let people enjoy it as long as it lasts.

Others would say, “But what if it gets vandalized? What if someone spray paints it?” That’s just what happened to a couple of pieces that had graffiti put on top of Banksy’s graffiti art. Summit County then spent months tracking the man down and has ultimately had a judge rule that the vandal must pay $13,000 in restitution. I can only image Banksy saying “How is my graffiti right but his is wrong… except that his lacks complete talent.” The time and effort spent on finding the man and trying him could have been used in so many other ways. Yet, since Park City is what it is now, there was little choice.

As we look back on what Park city has become, it is no longer what may people remember. Robert Redford agrees. This no longer is the little film festival Robert Redford dreamed of. This year Redford said, “How can I not be satisfied about a success? But those earlier years felt best. They’re taking away some of the textures and qualities that were here that gave it a kind of intimacy. It’s no longer the place it was. I don’t like what’s happened.”

He summed up Park City perfectly. Park City hasn’t been what it once was for a long time. It’s now a town with a $125 million movie studio, $2600 per night hotel rooms, and California-style traffic. Vail didn’t bring this on us, it has been headed our direction like a freight train from Coalville. If we would have paid a little more attention maybe we could have decided to take a different path. At this point, maybe we should just try to be the best Little-Vail we can be.


The Guy Who Graffitied Banksy’s Graffiti Can Avoid Jail By Paying Restitution

Guy who defaced Banksy graffiti near Main Street can pay $13,000 in restitution to avoid jail time.  I know time changes things, but I don’t think the government workers that first painted over some of the original Banksy “art works” around town had to pay anything.

Local Sheep Issue Not That Different From Global Warming

Big horn sheep have a problem. They are getting pneumonia from domestic sheep and dying. This will likely lead to 14 permits for grazing terminated in Summit County.

Stop the presses… the fossil fuel industry Utah Wool Grower’s Association says there is no scientific proof of this happening. Yet, the National Forest Service seems to think this is real. If this were global warming would I trust the oil industry or would I look at the research? A recent study out of the University of Washington points to domestic sheep as the cause of outbreaks in the western U.S.

The Utah Wool Grower’s Association is asking the Summit County Council to take a position in the fight, expend personnel time, and likely help them fight the issue to allow grazing to continue.

While we understand that the Wool Grower’s Association’s job is to promote sheep, this shouldn’t be at the expense of endangering other wildlife. Parkrag wants all sheep, big horn and domestic to live their life to the fullest. However, just because it impacts sheep farmers, the citizens of Summit County shouldn’t throw caution AND SCIENCE to the wind and harm the big horn sheep. As stewards of the land, it is our job to protect our wildlife, even if it may have uncomfortable consequences.

A Brewery Across From Burt Brothers?

Not much info, but we saw a building permit submitted for an establishment called “Park City Brewing” at 2720 Rasmussen. That would be in the old Enterprise Rental location that is across from Burt Brothers, near Jeremy Ranch. There are no details whether this would serve customers directly or have food.

If it really happens, it can’t be more nondescript than Billy Blanco’s. Hopefully the beer will be drinkable and the food won’t taste like rubber. That will put it in the top 2 in the neighborhood.

Update: Well it looks like something is happening for sure…

So Who Will Get Screwed out of Vail Sales Tax Revenue? Park City or Summit County.

You, me, and half of Park City are buying our Epic Passes right now. If the rain we’ve seen recently continues into Winter, it’s going to be a hell of a ski year. It might also be a hell of a year for our local governments to figure out whether they received the proper sales tax dollars from Vail.

When you buy your Epic Pass, Vail has to remit a portion of the sale (the sales tax) to Utah since they have operations here. The state then keeps 4.7% of that and sends the rest to the locality where the operations are. The city or county gets then gets their portion of the money. Sales tax makes localities very happy. ;-)

Well, not always. Last year there was an issue where some businesses outside of Park City city limits (i.e. in Kimball Junction) had incorrectly said they were in Park City. Their sales tax dollars went to the Park City instead of Summit County. As dumb luck would have it, a Park City Municipal employee was eating lunch in Kimball Junction and got charged the Park City rate and said “uh, this doesn’t look right”. Summit County filed some paperwork and received about a million dollars in tax revenue they were owed. What we learned out of that process is that the tax collection process is hard… and it’s about to get harder.

This brings us back to the Epic Pass, PCMR, Canyons, Park City, and Summit County. When you buy your Epic Pass, you never see the taxes. They are baked into the price, but they are there. 4.7% of the purchase price goes to Utah. The rest goes to the locality, either Park City or Summit County. The tricky issue is that Vail has operations in both Park City and Summit County. It gets harder yet because the tax rates are different. Park City has a 7.95% base rate. Summit County has a 6.05% base rate. Let’s make it even trickier, since Park City has the right (as a city) to charge resort taxes. That is an extra 6.35% tax owed to them. So you buy your Epic Pass, where and how much taxes are going to who? Great question.

If you go to Jan’s and buy skis for $600, you are charged the Park City rate (7.95%), they add $48 to your bill, and that money goes to Park City. Now you are buying the full Epic Pass online for $750, where the tax is some portion of that $750, with operations in two separate localities, where you never see the tax or tax rate, and Vail is going to remit some money to someone.

From a pure business standpoint Vail would be better off trying to run that all through the Canyons, since they would pay less tax. They are charging a flat $569 for the Epic Local Pass and I’m sure they would rather remit less money out of that to Summit County than remit more money to Park City, since Park City taxes are higher. That being said Vail is very good and this isn’t their first rodeo. Perhaps they have it all figured out.

I hope Summit County and Park City are just as good and ensure that the way Vail has it figured matches their figures. If not, somebody is going to get screwed.


h/t to JLM for this idea


Vail May Give You a Cheap Epic Pass But What Are You Going to Pay for Parking?

A friend of the Park Rag sent a message about Vail that said… “yeah, cheap pass to get you in the door but then charge you for breathing on the mountain”. Our minds naturally went to the low hanging fruit of additional charges… parking. That led us to research what is charged for parking at or near a Vail resort:

  • Vail: $25
  • Breckenridge: $5-$20
  • Keystone: mix of free and paid (gondola and certain parking lots paid)
  • Heavenly: mix of free and paid (gondola parking paid)
  • Beaver Creek: free

In the past, PCMR had an add-on to their pass that included underground parking. It wouldn’t be a leap for Vail to begin charging for the underground lot and the surface lot at PCMR. The same could be easily justified for Canyons. If you want to park all day at the lot at the Cabriolet lift, it may cost you. Of course free parking will be available at a not-too-far-but-not-too-close lot via a shuttle for free. If you see some parking lot construction equidistant from PCMR and Canyons, you’ll know we are on to something.

While any parking charges will likely be announced long after most of us have bought our Epic Passes, it wouldn’t surprise us to have to pay an extra $10 per day to use it.

h/t to ASM for suggesting this idea


PC CAPS is Teaching our Children the Wrong Lesson

During April 2012 there was a heated debate over whether to start the PC CAPS program, an initiative by the Park City School system to provide real-world experience to high school students through hands on projects. During 2012 there was also a budget crisis within the school system. They needed to slash $4.7 million from the budget and raise taxes to keep afloat. The decision was made to start the PC CAPS program and spend $150,000 over the next two years to put the program into place.

Two years later the annual budget for the program sits at $450,000 — six times what was promised. Oh, and there is another budget crisis causing taxes to be raised again. During this year’s budget discussion, School Superintendent Dr Ember Conley asked whether canceling the PC CAPS program would solve the $3 million shortfall and the response was that it wouldn’t make a dent in the problem. Yet, that’s not the point.

The point is that school leaders made announcements to the public stating that PC CAPS will cost the tax payers no more than $75,000 per year to get up and running. Three months later they hire a PC CAPS Coordinator that makes $125,000 per year in total compensation. At the same time in 2012 the Park Record reported “[PCSD Student Services Director Tom] VanGorder said initially they don’t plan on building a PC CAPS building, but will ask the participating businesses to provide workspace at each location for the students.” Two years later they need $5 million for a new building to house the PC CAPS program. It begs the question whether there is anyone who can accurately forecast expenses in the school district or whether the public is just told what they want to hear. Worse yet, no one seems to even apologize for the inaccuracy. It leaves the public saying “can we trust what is said going forward?”.

It is true that the PC CAPS has received grants of $262,550 (according to their website) to offset some of the expense. However, this likely offsets about a 30% of the expenses through the end of this fiscal year — and that doesn’t count the $5 million toward the new building that wasn’t going to be needed.

The PC CAPS program generally seems like a good idea. Many kids are getting an experience that would be tough to get elsewhere. The problem is that the program was sold with false promises. If Tom VanGorder stood up in 2012 and said this program is going to cost about $500,000 per year and we are going to spend $5 million on a building to house the students, does anyone think CAPS would have been approved? Probably not… but at least it would have been honest. Perhaps it’s just another case of “say and do whatever is needed to get the outcome you want.” I’m not sure that’s a lesson our school system wants to be teaching our kids.