Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

If you build it, they will come… another way for the Park City School District to go broke

During today’s Local News Hour with Leslie Thatcher on KPCW, School Board President Moe Hickey brought up the need for an additional elementary school.

If at some point you look at our growth patterns right now and say Trailside is at capacity, Parleys is at capacity, Jeremy is getting close to capacity. Right now we can handle what we have, but and this is where it gets tricky with an elementary school. If you start seeing more and more students come in, which we’ve seen the last two years…when do you start constructing an elementary school?

-Moe Hickey, Park City School Board President

Mr Hickey has a good point. If Park City Schools were in an ordinary situation and this was a perfect world, an estimate about future growth would be performed, and if additional capacity was needed, schools would be constructed. However, the current situation in Park City is not normal.

Just a few short weeks ago The Park City School District voted to raise property taxes due to a shortfall in funds. The increase was partially attributed to students from other districts coming to Park City. It was stated during those meetings that our schools have to take students as long as there is capacity. It was also stated that our school district only receives about $3,000 from the state for each out of district student, while it costs over $10,0000 per year to educate them. So it costs tax payers $7,000 extra for every student who doesn’t even live here, who attends our schools, and most importantly pays no property tax.

So as we approach capacity in our elementary schools, do we celebrate that as a way to stop the bleeding and the continual tax increases to cover out of district students? No, we start planning how to increase capacity so we can take more out of districts students, lose even more money, and cause property taxes to rise further.

The implications of this are huge for everyone. For residents, it likely means higher property taxes. For teachers, it likely means that raises will be less during the next negotiations. For the school district, they edge every closer to the maximum amount they will be able to tax and get ever closer to that cliff.

It’s almost as if the whole long term financial situation isn’t even being considered. While out of district students are only one component of the current problem, it is significant. Increasing capacity through another school will only exacerbate it. It’s frankly baffling.

More Info On Skiing Industry Since 2010

Yesterday we took a look at visitor nights in Park City.  It showed that since 2010, visitor nights were down in December, February, March, and April.

Today, we look at skier days in Park City since 2010.

Again, skier days are down about 4.5% since 2010. We are not exactly sure how this jibes with what we’ve heard from local resorts such as Deer Valley where we believe we heard that 2013 ranked as one of their best years ever.

Perhaps if the moisture keeps up and turns to a big snow year, we can turn this trend around.

Is Park City’s Ski Industry Slowing Down?

We know what you are thinking. Vail is coming into Park City and that means ski growth is going through the roof. They don’t make stupid investments! Remember, though, Vail is really a development company that runs some mountains. So, when we looked at this chart of Park City visitor nights by month (2010-present), it was a little bit shocking.

Sundance Up. Check!

Summer Up. Check!

Winter… Flat to Down. UHHH?

Source: Snyderville Basin Long Range Transportation Plan 2014

There are other ways of looking at how the ski industry is doing and they may tell another story; however, seeing that December, February, March, and April hotel nights are down from 2010 (the peak of the Great Recession) gives us pause.

Will Woodward Park City Find a Home at the Gorgoza Sledding Park?

We heard interesting speculation over the weekend. Someone asked what POWDR Corp was planning on doing with the Gorgoza sledding hill since it wasn’t part of the PCMR sale to Vail. Another person mentioned “wouldn’t that make a good home for Woodward Park City?”

Woodward Park City is the facility they were going to put at the base of PCMR that would be an action sports training center and camp for snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, BMX, etc. With Vail’s purchase it needs to find a new home.

Gorgoza makes sense on many levels. While the sledding operation seems to be busy and probably brings in a good chunk of money, this could be a lot bigger. Would it replace the sledding hill? Likely. Unless by some sheer chance they could find someone willing to sell them land adjacent to the sledding hill. Where could they ever find that? Oh yeah, the so-far-failed Discovery Core project that sits behind Weilenmann School. The developers haven’t been able to get approval to create their dream community there yet. Would they sell? Who knows. But with that property POWDR may be able to make something really special.

There are some zoning issues, as a recreation facility isn’t allowed there, but with enough lawyers those issues can sometimes be worked out … and we know POWDR has a lot of lawyers.

Right now it’s just wild speculation, but this is one of those crazy things that just makes too much sense.

We’ve Started Keeping a Running Total of Film Studio Deadlines and Promises

We went to check out the Park City Film Studio at Quinn’s Junction this weekend to see the asphalt that was supposed to be laid last week. While we did see a semi picking up a trailer, every other piece of equipment looks like it hasn’t run in a couple of weeks. Needless to say, there was no asphalt that we could see.

Therefore, we decided to start keeping a timeline of studio happenings: what promises are made, when things were supposed to be done, etc. We’ll update it as we get more information.

Here is the timeline…

If you know of something we have missed, please let us know at

More info on Park City Brewing Near Jeremy Ranch

We’ve heard some more info about Park City Brewing and we are getting excited. A few weeks ago we read a building notice that included information about a brewery in the Summit Center on Rasmussen (near the Burt Brothers).

We weren’t sure whether it was a sales/manufacturing facility or whether they would have a restaurant component. We’ve received some more information which indicates 3-5 beers on tap and basic bar food to start. Sources say they are hoping for a November open.

While it may be wishful thinking, we would love to have a similar experience to Silver Star, where we could hike or bike the trails and then pull in for some quick food an drink. The devil is in the details but hopefully this establishment will be a nice addition to the area.

Park City Council Member Dick Peek Tells Us the Public Opinion Doesn’t Matter — And He is Correct

During today’s Local News Hour on KPCW, City Council Member Dick Peek was discussing the Kimball Arts Center with Leslie Thatcher. He said, “We develop codes and ordinances and expect everyone to abide by them. If the public comes out and says they are against something. We don’t weigh that as a general item. We apply the code.”

As harsh as that seems, he is right. What the public says doesn’t matter. It’s the “law” that matters.

If you live in Old Town and Walmart wants to move in, your opinion, your neighbors’ opinions, or all of Old Town’s opinions don’t really matter at that instant. It’s what the Park City Development Code says that matters. If the Development Code and General Plan allow Walmart, it is gospel.

That is why the Development Code and General Plan matter so much. As Sun Tzu said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” We need to make sure our codes and plans match the public interest as much as possible because once they are in place, what people think doesn’t matter so much. This is why corporate bodies expend so much time and effort in shaping the development codes that they want. Once they do, the law is on their side.

With The Smartest Guys in the Room (aka Vail) now with us, this concept has never been as important.

Is the Film Studio Hiring of ex-Mayor Dana Williams Anything More Than a Political Stunt?

In Wednesday’s Park Record, Jay Hamburger reported that former Park City Mayor Dana Williams may be hired by Park City Film Studios as a consultant. According to the article, Williams said he could assist the studio with “the anticipated Chinese presence at the site” or “also aid the music aspects of the film studios.” It seems like National Film Capital, the Chinese firm often spoke of, is more of a financing group than a production group. It’s more likely that Warren Buffet will set up shop at the local Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate office than having a strong, consistent Chinese presence at the film studio. As for music, unless the studio’s target is focused on filming documentaries like the fabulous Sundance Film Festival entry Muscle Shoals, it’s likely that the music component will generally be handled elsewhere.

So, as a consultant, what would Williams really do? Three things come to mind:

  1. Utah has a film problem — at least for getting films filmed here. The amount of incentives the state provides for films is about $6.8MM per year (for all films). That’s not much when other states offer much more and often in the $30MM-$40MM range (each) for big films. There is no way Utah competes with that. Williams perhaps could lobby the State of Utah Legislature to get that changed. That could benefit the studio if the amount is raised. Whether you want your taxes dollars used on that is another matter.
  2. The Film Studio has an image problem.  As you speak with people around town, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lot of support for the studio from regular people living here. Sure, the people on the Park City City Council that supported it in 2012 are excited and a few business owners think it may bring in more people in the summer are hopeful but past that, support for the project is slim. What better way to up public support than bring in Park city’s favorite son. If this was Mayberry, Dana Williams would be our Sheriff Andy Griffith. Need more support from the public? Get Andy Griffith on the KPCW talking it up.
  3. The Film Studio is Dead on Arrival and it’s next life must be planned. Granted, this is a little bit of a leap. However, if the writing is on the wall and the film studio can’t get funding a developer will want to use or sell the land. The best way to ensure the ability to do either is to make sure that the zoning is as flexible for any sort of commercial activity. This is going to take some political finagling. We can hear it now… “Do you want that carcass of a half-finished building in the entry corridor or should we find someone like, Simon Property Group to come in, tear down the structure and build something fitting of Park City like Salt Lake’s City Creek. It would be so convenient for the people living in the new Park City Heights to be able to bike and walk to the location. With Vail coming in, we need this. It will be an upscale Tanger!” In order for that to happen, it will need the Bill Clinton of local politicians to get involved. It appears there may just be one available for hire.

So, is hiring Williams a political stunt in order to woo the people of Park City into looking more favorably on the studio? Does the Film Studio developer want Williams to lobby for him on the hill in SLC to bring in more films? Is the developer playing the long game and looking forward to life after the studio?

Or perhaps it’s all three. Would you rather have a 50 foot tall studio at the location or a Restoration Hardware? At this point, we at the Park Rag aren’t sure.