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Are your kids bullied in Park City Schools?

I remember walking down a hall in Junior High in the middle of Kansas. My friend Tim and I would walk the long hall, and way too often, someone would come up behind Tim and punch his books out of his hands. Papers would fly; books would scatter.


… would be shouted by the bully as he walked off — triumphant in whatever game he thought he was playing.

Thirty years on, I can still picture it in detail. It was terrible.

I wish bullying was some artifact relegated to my teenage years and a John Hughes movie, but it seems to be alive and well in Park City in 2023.

I’m hearing from parents that their kids are being bullied in Park City schools, and nothing is being done. Worse, I am hearing that school district officials have been notified and are not intervening. Instead, officials are offering platitudes.

If your child is experiencing this, they aren’t alone. There are asshole kids, asshole parents, and teachers and administrators who sometimes don’t do much about it.

I’ve met with parents who are organizing to stop this behavior in Park City schools. If you are having trouble and would like to be put in contact with parents who have children in similar circumstances, please reach out to me at . I will put you in contact with people who are having similar issues and want to make a change.

I know it’s not easy. However, together, we can make things better.

Since the Park City School District hasn’t removed lead-laced soil near Treasure Mountain Junior High, the EPA may take over.

The Park City School District is teaching a masterclass on deflecting, delaying, and denying responsibility. Fortunately, for our children’s sake, the class is almost over.

Since 2017 the Park City School District (PCSD) has been storing soil with lead and arsenic next to Treasure Mountain Junior High. Toxic soil, or what is officially called “solid waste” by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), is only to be left at a site for a few months, not six years. While the dangerous soil is in place, it is supposed to be covered by a cap. A cap is basically “good” soil covering the bad. However, testing this summer found that the cap was not thick enough and lead was being exposed at higher levels than codes allow.

Yesterday, Salt Lake Tribue Reporter Michelle Deininger reported that the School District must act now to clean up the waste. She reported, “The Utah Department of Environmental Quality has told Park City schools time is running out to submit a formal plan for removing contaminated soil piles at Treasure Mountain Junior High. The plan was due in January 2023, and a deadline extension passed six months ago. If the project is not finalized by year’s end, the DEQ said the EPA will assume responsibility on Jan 1, 2024.”

Further, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that “The latest DEQ letter refuted recent public comments by Park City Board of Education President Andrew Caplan, who said the district did not know whether or not the piles needed to go and the DEQ was ‘still looking at it.'” The DEQ letter states, “The soil piles remain in violation of the previously cited regulations within this letter and remain in very close proximity to both the TMJHS and McPolin Elementary School. The direction to remove these soil piles off-site … remains unchanged.”

Let’s cut to the chase. There is soil containing lead and arsenic piling up next to TMJH and McPolin Elementary. In testing a few months ago, the dangerous soil was not covered appropriately. It could have exposed community members to lead and arsenic. A plan to remove the soil was due to the DEQ in January 2023. The school board said they weren’t sure whether they needed to remove the dangerous soil, but the DEQ seems to refute that by saying they told the district they needed a removal plan in 2022. The district says they NOW have a plan, but they can’t share it with us because it is a draft. The DEQ says they will request the EPA to take over if a formal plan isn’t in place by January 1, 2024.

It’s another case of PCSD acting like they are above the law. They don’t need building permits. They don’t report abuse. They don’t clean up their waste.

PCSD estimated that cleaning up this soil would cost between $3 million and $13 million. When the EPA gets involved, which number do you think it will be closer to? Oh, and the EPA will bill PCSD for every penny and more. That means everyone related to the school district will be impacted: students, teachers, and taxpayers.

The school district has two months to put a plan in place to remove the dangerous soil. That should have been done five years ago. For years they have deflected, delayed, and denied responsibility. If the EPA ends up taking over, things will get very real, very quickly, for the School District Board members and Administration.

Either way, the jig is up for Park City Schools. Either they fix it or the EPA does. At least our children and teachers will be safer.

However, what does it tell us about our school district? These are the people who are ultimately responsible for teaching our children. If we can’t trust them to clean up lead and arsenic next to our schools, how can we trust them with anything else? Let’s hope they finally decide to do the right thing and clean up this mess. Furthermore, let’s hope no students, teachers, or community members develop complications from their actions.

However, if the EPA is forced to step in on January 1st, it’s time for a complete reboot of the Park City School District.

At some point, the school district has to be held accountable for the plethora of scandals that have arisen during Superintendent Gildea’s tenure. If hate speech, swastikas, magic rocks, building permits, non-reported abuse, teachers not invited back, bullying, employee daycare, substitutes, refusal to speak with the media, bus issues, and forcing the Summit County Health Department to descend on Parley’s Park Elementary don’t cause the public to demand a change, I’m not sure what will.

Maybe an EPA takeover due to inaction over lead and arsenic next to our kids will mean something — but I doubt it. Change starts at the school board level and then filters down.

Either Jefferson or Mencken was right.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The government you elect is the government you get.”

H.L. Mencken said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Maybe they were both right.

Maybe ‘Deadline’ was right about Sundance moving on from Park City

The Park Record is reporting that Sundance wants to delay renewing its contract with Park City. In a letter from Sundance Institute to the Mayor, they said delaying the renewal will “enable Sundance to complete our strategic planning work and can come to the table with a new vision for the Festival and the Institute as a whole. It is at this point that we can partner with Park City and arrive at a new long-standing Master Festival License with the City that is beneficial for both parties.”

This comes months after the site Deadline reported, “Sources tell us that Sundance is looking for another city to host future editions of the indie film festival and market.” At the time, speculation was that Sundance was negotiating through the press for a better deal with Park City.

Now, I am not so sure. Could Sundance move the main festival elsewhere but keep a few showings in Park City and Salt Lake? Probably. Could Sundance keep the Labs in Utah but rotate the festival through various locations nationwide? That makes sense. Would Sundance drop Park City altogether? Unlikely.

However, if any of these events happen, then the spectacle is gone.

That could be a good thing. People who care about seeing the movies in Park City still get to see them. However, property solely used to rent out during the first week of Sundance would go back on the market. Could that positively impact Main Street? Could Main Street become interesting again?

Likewise, second homeowners who count on selling out for Sundance and paying their annual mortgage may have to make other choices. Different choices could mean more affordable long-term rentals would be available to help our affordable housing problems.

Whether we wanted to acknowledge it or not, once Sundance showed Robert Redford the door, the writing was on the wall. For all those who want to maintain the Sundance Quo, perhaps you’ll get a reprieve. Maybe Park City will make Sundance an offer they can’t refuse. Everything will stay the same.

But if not, will we really be worse off? The Egyptian will likely still show Sundance’s best movies, at least for a while, even if the Festival is in Miami in 2027. Main Street would have more merchants and our local businesses could afford to be there. There would be more affordable housing options as some second homeowners sell.

Yes, it will be unfortunate for some speculators and investors, but that’s the nature of the business.

Would Sundance “leaving” Park City be a bad thing? I’m not so sure at this point.

Hazardous and contaminated soil was supposed to be removed from Treasure Mountain Junior High after 90 days, but it’s still there years later.

If you read one news story this weekend, read the Salt Lake Tribune’s “Park City School District was supposed to clean up soil years ago. Here’s how much it will cost now.” The background is that soil with lead and arsenic was put into piles behind Treasure Mountain Junior High (TMJH) during construction in 2017. In the years since, more potentially hazardous and contaminated soil was added to the piles. In 2019, the Park City School District added the cost of soil removal to its Master Plan. In 2021, district and city officials discussed removing the piles. As we start the 2023 school year, nothing has happened, and those piles remain. Here’s the kicker. Those toxic piles are only supposed to remain onsite for 90 days. Currently, they have been there for almost 6 years. According to the article, School Board President Andrew Caplan was questioned about this, and he responded, “Our admin team is in charge of educating 4,600 children and supervising around 800 employees whose job it is to do the same. They are also called upon to manage quite a few facilities, which is a secondary responsibility to education. Because this is not their expertise they do the best they can with their knowledge and limited bandwidth.” A district spokesperson also apparently said that the district preferred to look ahead and not assign blame. As a parent of a child in the district, I hear, “Sorry we may be poisoning Park City’s children, but we have a school district to run.” I do know the district has stated that these piles are not harmful. However, when they appear to not be following rules regarding contaminated substances, and had the incident at McPolin last year, it doesn’t give one faith. So, where does this go?

  • There will likely be a cleanup effort that will cost between $3 million and $13 million to remove these piles of toxic soil.
  • PCSD likely can’t clean that up during the school year, even if they wanted to, or they would further expose children when they disturb the soil.
  • I don’t see how they can economically tear down Treasure Mountain Junior High because they will disturb even more soil.
  • I also don’t see how they can encourage other entities to buy it with its contingent liabilities.
  • When will the lawsuits come? Lead and arsenic can cause learning disabilities, impact growth, and lead to cancer. At some point in the future, PCSD will be sued over these issues.

The District appears to have been aware of the problem for years. The soil impacted children with the closure of the McPolin playground last year. Yet, the school district doesn’t seem to be willing to solve the issue. The school district cites that they didn’t know the toxic soil should be removed after 90 days. Ignorance is not a defense. I guess lack of logic isn’t a defense, either. If this were a one-off, I might cut the school district some slack. We all make mistakes, but it’s how we react to mistakes that define us. However, the Park City School District has a pattern of mismanagement. It’s gone beyond a failure to report abuse, not applying for building permits, and not treating teachers respectfully. Now, it allows toxic soil to sit for years and potentially impact our children. It’s a dark time for the Park City School District. For a school district with only 7 schools, 4,500 students, and a lot of money, they can’t seem to get out of their own way. I feel for the students who will be impacted by the district’s poor decision-making. Again, I would encourage you to read the Salt Lake Tribune’s article. They have much more detail on the subject. Update: There was additional information provided related to the Sal Lake Tribune article: “State code requires piles that have been in place for more than 90 days be inspected and approved by the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control before they can legally be stored any longer. PCSD did not do that – the piles were only inspected on September 16, 2022 after a contractor called the DEQ with questions about them.”

Park City Juniors and Seniors Enjoy It

Across the open space, I heard music blasting that I barely understood. It was a high school party cranked way too high. It drowned out the music I was playing on my own deck.

The party was going on in The Trails at Jeremy Ranch.

For a moment, I was miffed. Then I remembered back to MY TIME years ago. I caught myself. These are the best years of your life. It’s perfect.

So, here’s to you, Park City High School Students. May your year go great. Be safe. Push yourself. Treat others with respect. Know you’re loved.

But also know that your choice of music sucks.

Here’s one from back in my day that I think still resonates. I hope you have a good year.

Park City High School kicker kicks 58-yard field goal

Congratulations Park City football player, David Dellenbach, on your 58-yard field goal kick against Wasatch on Friday night. Just before half-time Dellenbach ran onto the field and booted the longest field goal most people at Dozier Field had ever seen. For reference, the longest field goal ever in the NFL is 66 yards by Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens. While Dellenbach did not kick the longest field goal in Utah High School Football History (62 yards, I believe), he is immortalized in the top 10. If you’ve never tried to kick a field goal, and are wondering how hard this is, from personal experience, even a 35-yard field goal isn’t easy. Fifty-eight yards is amazing. The crowd at Dozier recognized the achievement. Park City fans went wild — like the team had just won the state championship. Even Wasatch fans were impressed and clapped for the young man. Friday night, everyone in attendance saw something special. Way to go David. May the rest of your year build off this tremendous feat. Here is a link to the Miner’s Facebook page. The video of the kick is available there.

President Biden, please don’t come back to Park City

President Biden, please don’t come back to Park City. I’m sure you secured millions in donations from Parkites, and that’s great for you. However, the impact on locals was terrible. My son couldn’t get to his reading tutor in Salt Lake. My wife waited in traffic for an hour going down Parleys. I couldn’t pick up kids from camp on time due to the interchanges at Jeremy Ranch, Kimball Junction, and Bitner Ranch being closed. It was crazy impactful and encapsulated the entire afternoon around Park City. You might say, “well you should have just left earlier.” Perhaps, but there was no schedule posted. I get that, and that’s for good reason. Whoever has watched that fateful scene from the movie Clear and Present Danger, where Harrison Ford’s motorcade is attacked in Columbia, knows how secure you must be. So, I don’t begrudge the Secret Service for shutting down both sides of I-80 or shutting down underpasses. I get it. That said, to borrow from another movie, “The only winning move is not to play.” So please Joe Biden, never come back to Park City as a president. Future presidents, please don’t come to Park City. We may, in fact, donate to your campaign to have you NOT come. The really funny thing is that my 11 year-old, while stopped in traffic, looked into the sky and saw the military helicopter flying over the motorcade and said, “Why didn’t he just take that?” Indeed. A military helicopter or two and a few F-35s from Hill Airfare base seems pretty secure. As one of my friends said, “Well, I am DEFINITELY not voting for him now.” It’s Utah so my friend’s threat doesn’t really matter. However, perhaps the president should be really careful in scheduling trips to Ohio.

You’ll want to check if your Park City kids are getting school bus service this year

If you have kids in Park City Schools, and depend on the bus, you’ll want to check and see if you need to apply for the waitlist this year. It appears things have changed this year regarding whether many children qualify for automatic bussing. For instance, in Jeremy Ranch, the Park City School District has decided that they are now treating the paved path between Homestead Rd. and Bluebird Lane as a “safe route” to school. This impacts bussing because a Utah school district only has to bus children who live more than 1.5 miles away from school — via the shortest “safe route” to the school. If your child rode the bus last year, they might not be able to this year because the “shortcut” that the school district is now using to calculate distance is being treated as a walkable path to school. If your child, using this “shortcut” to school, lives less than 1.5 miles away, they will not be provided bus service by default. Instead, you must apply to the waitlist to see if space is available. I have heard from one person that they received a notice of this change, but my neighbors and I have not. So, you may not be aware that your child won’t be bussed later this month. There are two major problems with this determination. First, Basin Rec who maintains this trail, says that “Basin Recreation currently has an interlocal agreement with Summit County to manage what have been designated as ‘safe routes’ to school. The section of trail that you are referring to is not currently included in that agreement, but Basin Recreation has been treating it as a part of our ‘Safe Routes’ operation.” So, the Park City School District limits bus service based on a trail not officially part of a safe route agreement, and that unapproved route is used to prevent many Jeremy Ranch students from using the bus. Second, and perhaps more troubling, is that the agreement says that Basin Rec has to plow the “safe route” within 12 hours of a snowfall. That timeframe is ridiculous. If children are expected to walk on a trail to and from school, that trail had better be plowed right before school begins and ends. Otherwise, how can it be a safe route? Twelve hours is unacceptable. Park City Heights also is facing issues. I’ve heard students who go to Treasure Mountain and live in PC Heights won’t get bus service because it’s less than two miles away. Can you imagine your middle schooler walking down Highway 248 to get to school any time of the year — let alone winter. Perhaps the kids could walk on the Rail Trail, but just like in Jeremy, the trail would need to be plowed before and after school. If you are impacted, call the Park City School District Transportation group at 435-645-5660 to ensure you have bus service. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out. Perhaps everyone who applies for the waitlist will be served. However, if Park City Schools reduces the number of buses it is using because there are fewer guaranteed students, it is the wrong message to be sending. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to drive our children to school, we’ll be taking more car trips, causing more congestion in places that can’t afford it (Highway 248), and teaching our kids that public transportation isn’t important. If you depend on the bus because of work schedules or other impacts, you may be choosing between your child’s safety and keeping your job. With so much talk about supporting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, changes like these are a slap in the face to many of the people the school district purports to want to help. As my wife lined up this morning at 7 AM to hand in her paperwork for the waitlist, there was already talk from parents about organizing to bring this to the School Board. It’s just another case where the Park City School District is acting like the Gang that Can’t Shoot Straight. I don’t get it. Here is a map of a Jeremy Ranch parent received that shows the impact. Only yellow homes are required to receive bus service.

Imagine an Idyllic Mountain Town with a Perfect 4th of July

The town was busy but not overcrowded. Cars filled almost every parking spot. Restaurants were busy and local businesses thrived. The parade sputtered down Main Street, as parades often do, with much fanfare and exuberance. It was an event for locals … by locals. The evening ended with fireworks over Main Street — paired with the local radio station’s blasting out Lee Greenwood from speakers and celebrating the holiday.

It was the perfect 4th of July experience.

Are we talking about Park City, Utah? No, it’s another Olympic town. Lake Placid, NY.

This was the first year I didn’t attend Park City’s July 4th festivities in over a decade. My typical PC experience is gathering the family, hopping on our e-bikes, and riding from Jeremy to Main Street for the parade at 11 AM. We’ll try to get to the white barn by 10:45 to see the jets flying overhead. After the parade, we will hit City Park, head home, and go to Canyons for fireworks later in the evening.

Instead, this July 4th, I was in Lake Placid, New York, for my kid’s hockey camp. They do July 4th differently in Lake Placid. They have a horse show in the morning. The parade down Main Street starts at 5 PM. Fireworks begin at 9:30.

Perhaps more importantly, Lake Placid was actually pleasant on the 4th. It was balanced. Yes, there are probably more people than they normally get in Lake Placid. Businesses likely thrive off of tourism, but it doesn’t feel like the town is trying to pack every last person in.

The town was busy but not overrun. The parade was a small-town affair most would enjoy. For the fireworks, my son and I sat on a hill overlooking Main Street with a handful of others. We arrived about 5 minutes before the activities started. The local radio station entertained us by playing songs synced to the fireworks launching over the town.

It was so “small town,” and Lake Placid Nailed it.

I love Park City, but when I see a similar town providing a much better experience, I stop and wonder why. My first thought is that Park City is just bringing in as many people as possible. It may also be because Park City can’t figure out how we escape the trap they’ve created.

I don’t have the answer, but if you find yourself in upstate New York on July 4th, I would spend an evening in Lake Placid. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll also likely wish Park City had more of the Lake Placid Miracle.

Tune into the Dakota Pacific Hearing on Thursday at 11 AM(6/15/23)

The long-awaited Summit County lawsuit against Dakota Pacific (DP) begins tomorrow. Summit County is requesting a summary judgment against DP on whether Utah Senate Bill 84 applies to the development. Summit County claims that the “Transit Center” at Kimball Junction doesn’t meet the definition of a “public transit hub” and therefore isn’t forced into allowing the Dakota Pacific development.

This could go several ways, but if Summit County is granted a summary judgment, it invalidates the Legislature’s apparent attempt to do an end-around of local government determining land use. If not, then the lawsuits will likely go on.

If you want to listen in at 11 AM (audio only), use this link or call (408) 418-9388 and enter meeting ID 963-924-258.

Thanks to Friends for Responsible Development for giving us the heads up.