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Is Park City Damned?

Did you know Park City is damned? At least that’s the claim of San Diego Free Press writer, Will Falk. Mr Falk recently penned an article called Park City is Damned: A Case Study in Civilization. It paints a bleak picture of Park City … and the world.

Mr Falk uses Park City as an example of how we are destroying the land that we love. While much of the article could apply to many places around the country, it rings true.

Mr Falk talks about the development currently going on. He also talks about potential development such as Treasure Hill. At one point he writes:

Park City is a damned town. Voices on the wind blowing in from the canyons whisper that this has always been true. Hollows groan with miners crushed in shafts long since collapsed, aspens still quake with memories of dynamite, and streams spit with tastes of mining waste. Mountains say nothing. They simply rise to the sky displaying their wounds. With shoulders flayed by roads and ski runs, their scars are reopened whenever forests threaten encroachment on skiers’ paths. First, these mountains had their guts ripped out by silver miners. Then, they had their skin peeled off by resorts. And, now they’re baking with climate change. 

Damn, he writes well. We’d recommend giving it a read.

So, what’s the Park Rag’s opinion? Is Park City damned? Yeah, probably, or maybe better said, eventually.

While Mr Falk speaks on a larger scale about how humans don’t respect the environment and that will lead to our species downfall, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Park City is an area on the brink of more immediate danger.

We know Park City and Summit County leaders try to put a positive spin on things… but it’s almost too late for that.

You don’t have to look any further than the Park City 4th of July Celebration. It’s a mess (and has been for a few years). They’ve tried to “solve it” but no solution could be agreed upon. One potential idea was just to cancel it. No one has the stomach for that.

Then you have traffic. Do you think buses and bikes are going to fix that? Count me as skeptical. If you haven’t got on a bus in the last year, I’ll count you as skeptical too.

Then we have growth. How many thousand units are going up between Silver Creek Village and Promentory? How many thousand units are going up just across the border in Wasatch County? How much vested development is there in Summit County?

Then you have the school district. It looks like their new bond will be for nearly identical things as 2015’s bond, for 50% more money. They create overcrowding in the elementary schools by offering all day kindergarten, and the scramble to try and fix the problem they partially created. They decide to move 9th grade back into the high school because there may be a few benefits, which then triggers a redesign of the Kearns Campus… and maybe the addition of another $100 million high school.

Main Street is becoming the Magnificent Mile with chain stores. Meanwhile, the city screws over the little guy during Sundance by shutting off lower Main.

Who knows how the Treasure Hill process goes forward. Will Woodward at Gorgoza be allowed to go forward with their huge indoor facility? Will the Discover project above Weilenman add another 100 homes that can be accessed via only a single, two lane road? Will Park City be connected to Big Cottonwood via a tunnel or some other means?

Will most of the above happen? Oh yeah, it’s just a matter of time.

That said, have we given up? No.

For me, I’m in it for the long-run. This is home. I’ve decided to fight the battles that I can fight. I live by the motto, “You can’t unbuild it.” So, the goal is simply extending the inevitable.

Can we keep the hill at the entrance to Jeremy Ranch as defacto open space for a while? Can we limit the development in the Boyer Tech Center to actual technology companies (or at least high paying jobs as intended)? Can we slow development along the Highway 40 corridor? Can we limit Vail’s influence on our town?

I believe we can.

Yes Mr Falk, we are damned in the long run; however I believe we can delay the inevitable — or maybe I HOPE we can delay the inevitable.

I’m not as eloquent as Mr Falk, so I’ll leave you with a quote from someone who is:

And I know that I’m damned if I never get out, And maybe I’m damned if I do, But with every other beat I’ve got left in my heart, You know I’d rather be damned with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned…Dancing through the night with you.

Well, if I gotta be damned you know I wanna be damned— Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned— Gotta be damned, you know I wanna be damned…Dancing through the night— Dancing through the night— Dancing through the night with you.Jim Steinman

h/t to our friend on Twitter who first let us know about this article and then the person who tipped us off to the original article. As Always, we appreciate it.

What Faustian Bargain will be made on Bonanza Flat?

Park City Municipal has wagered $3 million dollars of public money that it will be able to find enough cash to buy the $38 million Bonanza Flat area. The purchase has to be completed by June 15.

So far the effort has stalled. Park City residents have agreed to pay $25 million in a bond. Summit County agreed to pitch in almost $6 million. Private persons have pledged 2 million. That left the city over $5 million shy of having funds to buy the property. Park City had hoped Wasatch County, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and maybe even Sandy City would help foot the bill.

Wasatch County said no. Salt Lake County said no. Salt Lake City pledged $10,000.

So, Park City is still at a $5 million deficit to what it needs.

That leaves Sandy City or … someone else to help Park City out.

Government is about compromise. You have to give something to get something. So, what will Park City give to own this PRIME piece of land? They need someone to step up, and we are fairly confident someone will. The question to ask is, “What will we give up for someone to step up.”

People sometimes give up something for nothing… organizations usually do not.

Unless Michael Jordan is willing to donate, or some other benevolent benefactor is found, we guess there will be a quid pro quo.

So, we wonder where will the remaining money come from?

Will it be from a Wayne Niederhauser (Utah Congressman) or Sandy coalition? Will we need to dig a tunnel from Big Cottonwood to PCMR to get the money?

Will additional money come from Deer Valley? Will they want to ensure their gondola from Silver Lake Express to Main Street is accepted?

Will money come from Vail? Will we need to enable the Canyons to build a multi-level parking structure at the Cabriolet lift to get their money?

Will it be from a thousand small donors, who will make up the difference?

It seems that the likely, low impact, donors are no longer an option. How do we feel about the higher impact donors?

Is it worth it?

Maybe. Maybe not.

How MUCH do we want Bonanza Flat to be open space?

That is the root of the question.

 

 

 

Why Park City may not be in the top 20 in next year’s Ski Magazine rankings

Every year Ski Magazine ranks ski resorts. This year, Park City Mountain fell to #13. This was unexpected since Canyons and PCMR had been combined into THE LARGEST SKI RESORT in the known universe the U.S. This ranking is also important for our town, because we share our name with the ski resort. While locally, Vail markets the resort as Park City Mountain, the resort is marketed as Park City elsewhere. So, the ranking not only impacts our resort but our town.

This morning I had the chance to go to PCMR with my kid’s daycare. We were in line at the First Time lift and two of the kids had to use the bathroom. So, I took them to the bathroom at PCMR. This is what I saw at 9:20 AM:


Note… people said they would stop reading if we kept the Vail toilet pics on the home page. We don’t want to lose our only reader, so click below to see lots of shit.

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Bias in design is something the School Board needs to be aware of

We were watching the March 7 Park City School Board meeting video and the board was discussing how they would educate the public on various locations for a new 5/6 school. A board member said that they should consider providing the public with pros and cons of each location (Bear Hollow, Ecker hill, etc.). School Board member Petra Butler cautioned, “You don’t want a biased survey. That’s what you have to be very careful about. If we put what our pros and cons are we just need to be very careful. We don’t want a biased survey.”

Bias may be our number one complaint with the School District Process over the last few years. Whether it is the make-up of groups put together to chart a course forward or the composition of committees that do the same, there always seems to be a level of distrust with the inputs into the decision making process. Sometimes those inputs seem constructed to ensure that a desired outcome is achieved.

What we like about Ms. Butler’s comments is that it shows an acknowledgement of trying to ensure that bias is minimized in surveys.

We just hope that translates into decision making as well.

Is consensus decision making the best route for our schools?

Over the past few years, the Park Rag has been critical of our Park City School District for a few different reasons. One of those reasons is that historically the school board has voted in unison on major issues.

We have taken umbrage at that. It all seemed too programmed and processed. We would hope that in our schools all ideas are vigorously discussed and vetted in public.

Last Summer we had a chance to visit with School Board leader Phil Kaplan about the topic. Below is a response from Mr. Kaplan on the subject.


You have often pointed out that certain elected bodies function better than others because they split votes more frequently and don’t make unanimous decisions, as if that is a virtue by itself. The theory seems to be that the split vote represents dissent and debate, with officials sticking to their guns and the better choice ruling the vote. I would like to point out that a true consensus-based decision process can often yield better decisions, with greater downstream results and implications more thought out.

The consensus-based decision process hit American business hard in the 1970s, when it seemed like the manufacturing base was all going to Japan. It works with managers leading a team, with every voice having input, the best idea for the organization winning, and thorough implementation plans and process developed before the go decision is made. So, decision-making moves slower, but execution can be much faster and crisper. The American technology and manufacturing sectors have embraced this model to great effect.

Taking my thesis back to local elected bodies, we can use the consensus-based model, successfully, in our institutions. So, I would not just look at a 3-2 vote vs. a 5-0 vote as a quality determinant. I would look hard at the thought process that led up to the vote being taken. That would better reflect the quality of the ultimate decision.

All the best,

Philip N Kaplan
Member, Board of Education
Park City School District

Park Rag Morning 3/9/2017

Good morning. The weekend is almost here. If you ski or ride, this should be a perfect few days for spring skiing.

1. You will be paying for schools… one way or another

On Wednesday the Park City School Board voted unanimously:

“To go to a bond in 2017 and if the bond fails in 2017, the Board will go to a tax levy to fund the necessary facility needs of the district.”

We’re not sure whether the bond will be $65 million, $100 million, $140 million, or half a billion dollars. We’re not sure the board members know either… but they voted for it. And if the tax payers don’t pass the bond, the school board will levy a tax to fund the “facility needs of the district.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

2. привет John Huntsman

Sources say former Utah Governor John Huntsman will accept an offer to be the US Ambassador to Russia. We love John Huntsman as a middle of the road Republican. Hopefully he can bring that middle of the road philosophy to US/Russia relations.

 

3. Legislature votes to reduce DUI Threshold

The Utah Legislature has voted to reduce the state’s DUI threshold from .08 to .05, the strictest in the nation. Governor Herbert has said he is supportive of the legislature’s action on alcohol. If the Governor does follow through and sign the bill, it will become state law.

 

 

Park Rag Morning 3/8/2017

And a fine Wednesday morning to you. It’s all happening…

1. We have no privacy

Tuesday morning, Wikileaks released 8,000 pages of information about tools the CIA uses to spy on people. According to the Wikileaks, essentially every piece of technology you have in your home has been compromised. Your webcam on your Mac Book and iPhone can be turned on at any time and record what you are doing. Your kid’s tablet can record all sounds. Your Windows PC is always listening and happy to report back to Langley (or maybe Kiev). Your Samsung “smart” TV may just be too smart and is happy to both video-tape and record whatever you are doing.

You may say, “Well it’s OUR CIA, so I have nothing to worry about.” That may be true, but the real take away of this story is two-fold. First, there are real implementations of being able to over your devices (even if you think they are off). Second, the CIA created holes and then left in more holes in technology so they could exploit them. The big problem with this is other hackers can exploit these too.

Why this matters to Park City is that our little town is a microcosm of important people.

Have any involvement with the US Ski Team? The same hacks the CIA created, someone like the Russians will exploit.

Are you on the City or County Council? Don’t devalue the influence you have. People want to know what you are saying to your partner about things.

Are you Bob Wheaton or Bill Rock? Have you ever hosted a foreign dignitary? Would information about that person be useful to anyone?

Do you work at Skull Candy? Do you have access to anything important business-wise?

What once was fiction and the subject of movies like Enemy of the State appears to be real. We know it sounds all tin-foil hat… but we’d suggest you think about what you say and do in front of any device that has a microphone or camera. Keep in mind that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg famously tapes over his webcam and microphone on his PC.

If even in your wildest dreams you think someone may want information you have, you may want to consider being more careful. You never know who is watching and listening.

2. Goodbye Winter … until next year

Winter, we will miss you. Hopefully you got in a couple good ski days on Monday and Tuesday.

The National Weather Service says:

Continued to nudge the forecast toward the drier, consistent ec solution but kept at least low end pops as a nod toward the wetter GFS solution. This would keep temps in the 5 to 15 degree above normal range through the long range portion of the forecast.

3. NRA shoots itself in the foot

According to Utahpolicy.com, the Utah Legislature was close to allowing all Utahn’s to carry a concealed weapon. The only limiting factor was that a person could not have a round in the chamber (they could have a magazine with bullets inserted into the gun but not a bullet in the chamber). However, it appears that the NRA pushed hard against this limit. In frustration, members of the legislature decided to table the idea because they wee tired of the NRA.

It looks like the NRA can wear out its welcome …even in Utah. That said, the bill is likely to return next year.

 

 

Park Rag Morning 3/7/2017

Happy Tuesday. It’s a great time of the year. With the state legislature’s year coming to a close, the School District in the midst of planning for expansion, and the scramble for Bonanza Flat dollars, lot’s of interesting things are happening. Here are some of the BIG and little news items that you may find interesting.

1. You will won’t be paying more for food

Over the weekend we learned that it was basically a done deal that the Utah Legislature will increase sales tax on food by 3%. However, it appears the state legislature ran out of time and according to House Speaker Greg Hughes there will be no sales tax increase on food this year. Hughes said there was the political will to increase the tax among lawmakers, but that in the end, it just didn’t raise enough money to be worth it.

Read More from the Salt Lake Tribune.

2. You will be paying for parking at China Bridge

Park City Transportation Manager Alfred Knotts told KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher that the city has an RFP out for technology related to charging for parking at China Bridge. He said “that RFP will dictate the schedule” for paid parking. Knott’s said it will be a “soft rollout” and that the price structure will be fluid. Ms Thatcher asked whether the city should give the heads up to locals, since China Bridge has inherently been free parking. Mr Knotts said yes there will likely be charges during busy times of the day.

Welcome to the ever escalating world of parking charges. We’ll remind you that people in Chicago don’t bat an eye at paying $30 to park near Michigan Avenue.

3. SAGE testing may be replaced by ACT

On Monday, the Utah House Education Committee voted to move SB0220 to the Senate. SB0220 provides an updated method of grading schools across the state. According to Deseret News, elementary schools will be judged based on the “percent of students who score proficient or above on a statewide test; academic growth; academic growth of the school’s lowest performing quartile; and progress of English learners.” High School students will be graded on those four factors as well as graduation rates, students who score 18 or above on the ACT, and the percentage of students who take AP test or advanced career and technical education courses.

As currently stands, the bill would also do away with the much maligned SAGE test. Taking its place would be the ACT Aspire test.

The one sticking point is that the bill (in its current form) would mandate letter grading of schools. Various school groups, some PTA organizations, and some members of the Utah State Board of Education are opposed to the idea because they don’t feel the information will provide an adequate picture of our schools.

This bill would make grading of Park City schools similar to US News and World Reports Top High Schools. That’s good for Park City School District as we have high graduation rates, good ACT scores, and lots of students taking AP tests. However, recently the proficiency of our English Language Learners has not been up to par. The hope is that dual-immersion programs in our elementary schools will help improve scores.

4. There will be 9 E-Bike Stations

In June, Summit County will be launching its E-Bike initiative. There will be four stations in the county, one at the Canyons, and four in Park City. They will be at: the new Whole Foods, Tanger Outlet, Kimball Junction Transit Station, and New Park, Canyons, Prospector Square, Park City Transit Center, Town Lift or Fresh Market (not defined yet), and perhaps the Library.

The hope of this program is to reduce traffic in and around Park City. It will cost Summit County approximately a million dollars to get the program up and going. Half of that money is paid for by a grant from UTA. Look for the program to start up in June or July.

5. This summer travel will be miserable between Kamas and Park City

In May, UDOT will be reconstructing Highway 248 from the 7-11 in Kamas to the Hospital in Park City. According to Summit County Transportation Manager Caroline Rodriquez, there will be some impact this summer. Expect lots of flags and lots of delays as the road may go down to one lane. Ms Rodriquez said that the county had been working with UDOT to try to limit impacts during holiday/event time periods.

 

What do Donald Trump and the Park City School District have in common?

Like him or despise him, President Donald Trump has done one very great thing for this country. People are paying attention. Friends who never even knew an “executive order” was a thing, are now learning the power of presidency. Why?

Because politics have been shoved in their face.

Last week the Park City School District discussed increasing the capital local levy to its maximum amount. This would mean a family with a $650K house would pay over $900 more a year in taxes. For those of you who own in Park Meadows, that would mean you would likely pay about $1800 extra per year.

Talk about something being shoved in your face.

Yet, the more we think about it, the more we like the concept of a levy. Too often, small tax increases get swept under the rug. However, if your are paying a couple of thousand dollars extra per year, you are going to pay attention. You are going to ask whether the paint being used was from Home Depot or from Sherman Williams. You are going to wonder why in 2015 the school district bond to build a new 5/6 school, and remodel the High School to accommodate 9th graders was $56 million but now the number seems to be at $100 million.

You may even look at all expenditures and wonder whether money was well spent. Should teams travel out of state for competitions? Should teachers receive more compensation during the next round of negotiations. Should Park City Education Foundation personnel receive salaries from the School District?

It’s called shining a lighting dark spaces and sometimes you don’t like what you see. And often times you can’t unsee what you have seen. That is a good thing.

So, we welcome a capital levy from the school board. If they think they are under scrutiny now, just wait until their name is on the bill.

Sometimes it is good to look at the receipt after you have checked out at Fresh Market and see just what you bought.


Update: In a previous version of the above post, we asked “Should the Park City band have flown to Hawaii and played at Perl Harbor?” We had intimated that the school district had paid for this. Park City School District Representative Molly Miller reached out to make ensure we knew that parents, students, and the PC ED foundation paid for the majority of the Pearl Harbor trip for the band. She noted:

  • Of the money spent to send the band, most of it was raised by band members and their parents.
  • They participated in Live PC, Give PC.
  • They also received $1,000 in an “express grant” from the wonderful Park City Education Foundation.
  • District money spent on this life-enriching trip for our band members consisted of payment for a substitute teacher for Bret Hughes.

 

We’ve installed a racism filter

One of the things we’ve tried to do at the Park Rag is provide a place where community members can voice their opinion. We do that through posting stories written by others and enabling comments on stories.

Unfortunately some recent comments have become racist in nature. We’re frankly tired of reading them and we believe other readers are too.

So, we’ve implemented a comment filter that automatically deletes comments it judges as racist or bigoted. We’re sure it won’t be 100% perfect and some will slip through. We’re also sure that some legitimate comments will be trashed. So, if you’ve made a comment that doesn’t appear within a few hours, just email us the comment at .

We appreciate the feedback from readers on this topic. They presented a variety of good suggestions. One reader recommended removing anonymous comments. We found two potential issues with this. First, we feel there is value in anonymous comments. Second, the typical way to actually tie a user to a REAL person is through a Facebook Login. For instance, the Park Record uses Facebook for comments. We don’t really like the privacy implications of tying comments to a Facebook account. So, that was a non-starter.

Another reader recommended just getting rid of comments altogether. That would be the easy route and many online websites have done that. However, we do like the easy ability for people to comment on subjects. As long as the comment adds value to a discussion (even if it’s highly critical), we feel it’s a chance to learn and maybe understand a viewpoint we don’t have.

So, we are going to see how well a machine can do at masking the racism that seems to plague the Internet.

Thanks for taking the journey with us. And as always, thanks for reading the Park Rag.