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‘Blood and Oil’ on Life Support After Week 2

I was driving back from Heber yesterday and came upon the back side of Park City Film Studios. Never before have I seen such a fine collection of trailers in one spot — and I assume they are mostly there due to ABC’s ‘Blood and Oil’ production taking place at the film studios. If you want the opportunity to see it for yourself, you better hurry. It looks like ‘Blood and Oil’ may not be long for this world.

TV By the Numbers reports, “Two weeks in, ABC’s scripted shows collectively are doing better than any of their network brethren… Even the critically pilloried “Dr. Ken” scored pretty well in its premiere. Which isn’t to say there aren’t some trouble spots. Newbie “Blood & Oil” dipped in its second week, downgrading it to a likely cancellation.

So it appears the movie studio will likely be looking for a new production to take up residence sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, that’s likely harder to find than it sounds. I hope the studio made some good money and negotiated a good cancellation clause. Otherwise, as often is said in a show that’s not about to be cancelled…

Winter is Coming.



Today I Learned… Colorado Turned Down the Olympics Over Traffic

I was writing a story on a toll traffic lane in Colorado and came upon this quote from the Denver Post:

Traffic congestion was considered a major reason why Colorado voters rejected the 1976 Winter Olympics. Denver remains the only host city in the history of the Olympics to be awarded the Games but then reject them. The 1976 Winter Olympics went to Innsbruck, Austria, instead.

Contrast that with Utah and Mountain Accord. We seem to want to build more infrastructure so we can bring in more people and hopefully bring in even more with a future Olympics.

The implications here are tremendous. We have seven ski resorts that are very close together. There’s been some talk about connecting those ski resorts. What are the transportation implications of that. We’re talking about the Olympics and maybe making a bid for the Olympics and there’s probably about 14 years or something down the road, but you have to start planning for that type of thing now. So this [money for Mountain Accord] is, I believe, money well spent.Wayne Niederhauser, State Senator and Mountain Accord Executive Committee Member

Perhaps Utah does need an Olympics to jump start our economy. Perhaps, we as a people, want to spends billions to update and expand our infrastructure. Perhaps we’re willing to trade some quality of life for a train. Perhaps the inflow to our economy from the visitors associated with an Olympics outweighs negatives.

Everybody has their own opinion on that. I just found the difference between 1970’s Denver and 2016 Salt Lake interesting. Perhaps Denver residents may view it differently today. I wonder how our residents would vote on an Olympic bid?


Colorado May Implement Pricey Toll Lane Aimed at Ski Traffic

A reader sent in an article about Colorado’s new variable-priced toll lane that extends 13 miles on Interstate 70 between the mountains and Denver. While toll lanes are nothing new there are a number of interesting aspects to this one:

  • It only runs 72 days a year (weekends and Monday holidays)
  • The toll is priced based on the traffic situation. When traffic is bad, it will cost as much as $30. When traffic is lighter is may cost as little as $3.
  • This is likely the most expensive toll per mile in the U.S.
  • The toll-lane is only operated down the mountain into Denver, which is where traffic backlogs often occur.

The Park Rag reader noted: “Consider I-80/US 40/SR 248 ‘Express Route’ to/from Kearns Campus ? parking; shuttles to/from PCMR or CANYONS sites or ?DV????? (avoiding SR 224 stop & go). SR248 would be designated/enforced ‘3 lane’ during high-occupancy periods.”

The reader has a point. Imagine a variably priced toll that costs up to $30 to drive in on 248 or 224 during weekends and holiday periods. This could cut two ways. Either the toll could be used to incentivize people to take the bus (or carpool) or it could be used to gain revenue to offset other programs targeted at reducing congestion. Or Both.

The idea of busing from the Kearns School Campus may work on weekends but the parking lot would be too full during school days (and Sundance). That said, there is the Park and Ride out past Park City Heights that the city always talks about using but never seems to pull the trigger on.

The idea of pricey tolls is interesting. There are details to be worked out like how to minimally impact those who live and work in town (and depend on those corridors) and the inevitable push back from the resorts. If somebody is going to make $30 off of cars, I’m sure Vail wants it to be them.

Yet, it’s another idea to put in our quiver of potential solutions –one that we get a free ticket to watch (in Colorado) and see how it works out.

Each time I read about these ideas, it just reminds me that busing alone (or rail alone) isn’t a solution by itself. I know Summit County and Park City are still working on trying to find solutions. I know that they are hoping Mountain Accord will chip in $400,000 for a transportation study. I just hope that it doesn’t come back with more of the same-old-same-old. If rehashed solutions would have solved the problem, it would be fixed by now.

We need some out of the box ideas. Perhaps toll roads aren’t it, but perhaps they are part of the solution if done effectively.

Thanks to the reader who sent in the article and comments

Do Park City School District Policies on Busing Make Traffic Worse?

I was sitting in a Park City School School Board meeting and someone said, “do you know how many kids ride the bus to McPolin? 10.” I took it as a joke, but it may not have been given current school board policies regarding student busing.

A Snyderville Basin resident had begun a campaign to change fees associated with busing. It seems students within 1.5 miles of an elementary school or 2 miles of a secondary school are not eligible for busing without paying a $200 fee per child. This $200 fee, it seems, incentivizes many parents to drive their kids to school instead. Resident, Alex Brown, has started a petition to get the fee reduced or removed and has asked for people to attend an October 20th school board meeting to express concerns to the Park City School Board.

If you look at a map of the area surrounding McPolin Elementary School, a 1.5 mile restriction generally encompasses a large share of students that attend the school. This may explain the reason only a few students take the bus to the Kearns Campus area.

This decision by the School Board (which has been in place for years) was likely based upon Utah Code which says:

(1) A student eligible for state-supported transportation means:

            (a) a student enrolled in kindergarten through grade six who lives at least 1-1/2 miles from school;

            (b) a student enrolled in grades seven through 12 who lives at least two miles from school;

Therefore, the district may fear they would lose state funding by allowing students in close proximity to schools to ride the bus for free.

However, Ms Brown claims, “when asked what the $200 per child fee is used for, I was told that it goes into a pot for under-funded programs which means any program not just transportation.”

This is likely one of those policies that have been in place for years. However, with current transportation problems in and around Park City, it seems it should warrant some creativity from the School District. If we could even get 30 more students on a bus (and out of cars) to McPolin, Jeremy Ranch, Parley’s Park, or Ecker Hill it could take substantial pressure off of our roads at peak times, make school parking lots safer, reduce the number of accidents, and cut down traffic entering and exiting our schools.

I hope the school board will listen to Ms Brown and work to find a solution that benefits everyone.

If you’d like to sign Ms Brown’s petition, you’ll find it here.

If you’d like to contact the School Board or Administrative personnel on the issue, their email addresses are below:

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A Great Discussion That Reminds Us To Start Paying Attention

Every once in awhile there will be a 30 second exchange between people that everyone should hear. This morning it happened on KPCW. Summit County Community Development Director Pat Putt was interviewed by KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher about different developments happening around the Snyderville Basin. One of those developments discussed was the Silver Creek Village, near Home Depot. The conversation was:

Leslie Thatcher: A heads up…this community [Silver Creek Village by Home Depot] is basically as large with the number of units as the municipality of Park City.

Pat Putt: 1300 residential units and 50,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial. It’s likely that 20 years from now, if you want to put a balance point of the epicenter of where a lot of the real Parkites will be living, it will be in that quadrant of our community for sure.

Leslie Thatcher: And they’ll be in the South Summit School District.

Pat Putt: Yes.


So, why do you care? If Mr Putt is correct (and he probably is) it’s time to start paying attention to that area and envisioning what we as a community want the area east of Highway 40 to look like in 20 years. While there have been “concerns” about what the area will become, it is beginning to be fleshed out. Near Quinn’s Junction, the area is starting to house small retail and office space (the Park City Gun Club, 43 Racing, etc.). Near I-80, the area will have Silver Creek Village (described above). There is also a proposal to put a development with mixed residential and commercial on the south side of Home Depot (Pace Meadows). As the area between Home Depot and Quinn’s converges, and the EPA figures out how to deal with environmental cleanup efforts, there will be more pressure on Summit County to allow growth to occur along Highway 40 between I-80 and Quinn’s Junction.

It doesn’t take too much of leap of faith to imagine a large “L” of commercial activity that starts at Silver Creek Village, extends to Quinn’s Junction, turns and heads toward the movie studio and extends into town along Highway 248.

You may be “for” this growth. If so, you’ll likely want to make sure it is done right, with transportation and design done appropriately. You may be “against” this growth and hope the area east of Highway 40 stays open space. In that case you should likely fight projects beyond what are already entitled (i.e. the Pace Meadows Project).

Either way, changes are coming, and if Mr Putt is right, those changes are going to be huge. The actions we undertake now will like impact the future of the Snyderville Basin.


Summit County Unemployment Rate Stays Steady in August

The Utah Department of Workforce has released unemployment numbers for August 2015. Our seasonally adjusted non-farm unemployment rate is holding steady at about 3.2% (same as August). We continue to have the second lowest unemployment rate in the state, with only Cache county having a lower rate at 3.0%.

Non seasonally adjusted data from provides a similar view. Compared to August 2014, approximately 630 more people are working in non-farm jobs in Summit County in August 2015 (23,294 in 2014 vs 23,926 in 2015).


How Did Park City Film Studios’ “Blood and Oil” Do in Its Debut?

Blood and Oil is a new TV series starring Don Johnson, that also is renting out the entire Park City Film Studios. A recent report says the show”is taking over the entire production facility including three 15,000 square foot production spaces and offices.” Given that only 20% of new network primetime series make it to season two and the controversy surrounding the studio (from its inception through recent litigation), the Park Rag is going to follow the show to see how its ratings are trending each week.

For the first week, it was one of the worst ranked shows in the 18-49 demographic (only Bob’s Burgers did worse) and the worst in its time slot. The 18-49 demographic is the most coveted age group for advertisers and ratings in this demographic tend to indicate whether a show will be cancelled. That said, it did have 6.3 million viewers and was up against the series finale of CSI. So, future results could be different.

However, if the show doesn’t improve its ratings quickly, it may be replaced by ABC sooner rather than later. At that point, Greg Ericksen Gary Crandall whoever owns the studio will likely be pounding the pavement looking for their own replacement.

Here are the Nielsen ratings from Sunday night:




Would a Brewery Start the Boyer Tech Park on the Road to Success?

Headphones, skiing, and a developer. What do they have in common? A brewery.

As you may know, the Boyer Technology Park (across from Redstone on 224) is a controversial topic. It started out as a pretty good idea; bring high paying technology jobs to Park City. Yet, it has failed to deliver on that promise. It seems few technology companies (in one of the biggest booms ever) find the tech park compelling.

What we have now is one building in a tech Park that houses a visitor’s center, a vacation rental business, a coffee shop, a physical therapy location, and a few assorted other businesses. It’s hardly Google.

Last year, Skull Candy (who makes headphones) was granted the right to build an office in the tech park. This was under the auspices of outdoor recreation research, which appears to be permissable under the development agreement Summit County signed with Boyer (the developer). Skull Candy appears to be ready to begin the planning process for a development in the Tech Center.

Contrast that with the ski company, Armada, made famous by local celebrity Tanner Hall. They moved here from Southern California and are in the process of renovating a space on Rasmussen Road by Burt Brothers. I’ve heard that one of the things they really like about their current space is that it sits about 100 feet away from Park City Brewing Company. It’s just not the beer but the creativity and energy that often accompanies a brewery. In some ways it seems brewing beer and skiing are somewhat kindred spirits.

Now, consider the what-if. What if there was a brewery in the tech park? Instead of wide open space that appears devoid of everything, what if there was a kindred spirit sitting there? Would Armada have made the choice to move there instead? If Armada and Skullcandy both had offices there, along with a brewery, would other outdoor research companies follow?

I heard through the grapevine that a brewery had attempted to receive permission to build in the tech park within the last couple of years and were denied. In hindsight, perhaps that was a mistake. The agreement governing the land says that permitted uses include “Incidental commercial uses principally located within the Research Park to support other permitted and approved conditional uses, such as restaurants, private clubs …” You might argue that this language really means “a small deli shop in a building.” However, it doesn’t say that. You may argue that there isn’t anyone to “serve” yet so building a brewery isn’t INCIDENTAL since there is hardly anyone there. Yet, the language of the agreement says that a restaurant has to support “permitted uses” and not “permitted uses that have been constructed.” There is a million square feet of permitted “Armadas” and “Skull Candy’s” to be built. Do you think they’d like a beer?

More importantly, do you think more of those type of companies would come if there was a brewery only a few feet away? I do.

Of course, you could argue that the agreement’s designation of INCIDENTAL uses doesn’t apply here, because a brewery could service people outside of the tech park. Of course you could argue that Skullcandy isn’t an “outdoor research company” too. It’s all semantics.

If we truly want “outdoor technology” companies to choose Park City over Ogden we have to make an effort. Allowing a brewery in the tech park isn’t a bad start. Imagine a world where you have a few “Skull Candy’s” and a couple breweries in a campus environment. It becomes a much easier sell.

Now, of course, we could argue whether we as citizens would have preferred to keep the entire area as open space (that ship has sailed). Or we could say that we want to keep requirements as stiff as possible to keep the area as defacto-open space. I suppose that’s fair too.

Yet, if we really want to bring research and technical jobs to Park City… and we want a million square feet of them … a brewery isn’t a bad place to start.

A Reader Provides a Reason to Vote for the Park City School Bond

Yesterday I wrote an article titled Do You Want to Pay for New Park City Schools for 3 Years, 5 Years, or for 20 Years? It attempted to lay out the case for why citizens may opt to vote down a school bond and pay for rebuilding schools in installments of 3 or 5 years.

Reader, Dave, commented back “I think what you are missing is that most people will not be living in Park City for 20 years. For a homeowner living here in the 5-10 year range the $123 a year option is cheaper for them.” He makes a great point. For an individual who is planning on living here for a “short” period, a bond option, where you pay $123 a year makes sense. It appears that about 12 years is the breakeven point where a bond will cost you more money.

Now, I’m not sure that Dave’s characterization that “most” people, who live here now, won’t be living here in 20 years is accurate. That said, I’m not sure it’s entirely inaccurate. But Anecdotally I don’t see that and the latest US census data shows us that between 2009 and 2013 (5 years) 627 people left Summit County. So, if you extrapolate that, it would be about 2500 people leaving Summit County in the next 20 years. That would be about 6.5% of the current population.

Yet, those macro numbers don’t really matter to an individual or a family. If you are planning on moving out of Park City in the next 11 years, the school bond option may make financial sense for you.

Dave, thanks for pointing that out.