In October there was a joint meeting of the Park City and Summit County Councils to discuss the Mountain Accord. We’ve recently been provided with the meeting minutes and it’s a fascinating read. It provides great understanding of the positions by various council members and some of the outside forces at play. If you have time, we’d recommend reading the whole thing. If not, here are some of the key points, as provided in the meeting minutes:
Ann [Ober… Park City Municipal] said there was a unified voice that included Vail, members of the Park City Council, members of the County Council, and Steve Issowits representing Deer Valley, against opening Guardsman.
Andy [Beerman, Park City City Council] continued by saying Summit County is also in favor of all other aspects except a tunnel or train through the mountain to Park City from the Cottonwoods.
Cindy [Matsumoto, Park City Council] said she was willing to stay in the talks about rail if there was a guarantee there would not be cars over Guardsman.
Jack [Thomas, Mayor] wondered who benefits from a connection from Salt Lake City and Park City. Who might also see a negative impact? He sees this as a connection for folks to funnel into Park City to take this train to the Cottonwood Canyon Resorts, creating more traffic and congestion. He feels it will also change the nature of town. He asked if any other Council members were concerned about that. Andy said Council could formulate some conditions to shape the connection. Jack wondered who would benefit from the connection. The resorts don’t think it is to their advantage. Does it benefit the small businesses in Park City, does it benefit the ski resorts? He asked if it would change the dynamic of our community.
Liza [Simpson, Park City City Council] commented she doesn’t think there is any way of knowing until an economic impact study and some information is received.
Cindy said she does not see a benefit to the community of getting people from Sandy up to Park City twenty minutes faster. The only benefit she sees for the Park City community is preservation of a certain un-named property. And in the distant future, a rapid train that come directly to Park City from the airport.
Liza mentioned when the Transportation group talks about transportation, they are talking about two distinct cohorts of people using it. She wouldn’t mind getting on a train that meandered around the Salt Lake Valley as long as she didn’t have to schlep her luggage on and off the bus or train. Jack said in his experience in the planning industry, people are interested in getting to their destination quicker. Liza said her point is that the leisure traveler is different than the commuter. The leisure traveler will do what is easy and convenient and the commuter needs what is consistent and as quick as possible.
Jack agreed with the connectivity aspect. He said what he looks at is the nature of the issues in our community. Over the past few years, congestion and impacts issues, along with the frustration of navigating through them have been identified. He said he doesn’t understand the nature of the train connection to another market, another region. There is substantial cost, billions of dollars. He continued that as soon as those connections are made, growth will accelerate in both places.
Dick [Peek, Park City City Council] said at an Open House he attended, Senator Neiderhauser approached him and said “you guys need a tunnel”. He continued, saying Neiderhauser is very pro-transportation. That is why the Mountain Accord process could be affected because there are people at the state who would like to see a tunnel.
Tim [Henney, Park City City Council] asked the Mayor how he arrived at his decision about the connection? Jack said, he would call it common sense. Park City has a captive market. We’re surrounded by mountains, we are a unique environment. We have the core values that we embrace and love that are fundamental to our community and the small-town nature of it. Having studied mass transit, including the Bay area rapid transit and other systems in Honolulu, he said that when you put in new nodes and connectivity with mass transit trains, you get dramatic concentric rings of growth are created, even in areas that are built out. He believes the changes coming our way changes our nature; changes us from a small town to more a connected component of a mountain urban system.
Cindy commented there might not be room for growth within the city limits of Park City, but if there was a train connection here, it might encourage growth in the County that we wouldn’t have any control over.
Tim said Council is trying to manage growth, not create or facilitate additional growth. He said Park City can either let the growth happen to us or figure out how to manage it in a way that reduces congestion, gets people out of cars, and gives them alternate modes of transportation.
Tim noted there is a dirt/gravel road that people consistently go up and down every day and that traffic is increasing. He thinks if that can be stopped and the land up there can be preserved, he is willing to consider the connection. Jack told Tim he was welcome to disagree with him.
Liza commented the growth is coming whether Park City participates in the planning process or not. She continued that this could be the only chance to anticipate, mitigate, and channel the growth to where it’s more appropriate. A gondola over the top from the Cottonwoods to Park City would add to the guest experience. She said she just doesn’t know if it would be good for the community. She is not in favor of Guardsman remaining open to single occupancy vehicles or improved so that year-round traffic can utilize it. She feels the only hope Park City has as a community is managing the growth in partnership with some of these other entities.
Andy asked for feedback from Kent and/or Diane as to what can be forced upon Park City by the State officials. Ann said there were significant restrictions to somebody coming in and doing this to us. One restriction is the original agreement that Council signed addressing how decisions are made in this process. The agreement says a consensus is necessary before something moves forward.
All agreed and Liza said she wanted to make one more point relating to the conspiracy theorists. If Neiderhauser does have a magic wand and could make the tunnel/train happen, it wouldn’t make any difference whether Park City wanted and supported it or not. Staying in the process gives Park City the relationships and partnerships necessary to support our position.
Liza said she was concerned that if Park City gets too positional, we will get back to being viewed as elitists. Saying that we have concerns about the connection is entirely fair and expected.
Cindy asked again if the group was worried that if they study it, they will get it. Claudia [McMullin, Summit County Council] answered with a resounding yes.
Roger [Armstrong, Summit County Council] clarified that what the Transportation Systems committee walked into their Wednesday meeting there was a slide on screen that said we want you to vote to forward to the Executive Committee either A or D. He said that in choosing these two extremes, it would force the Executive Committee to study all the concepts.
Chris [Robinson, Summit County Council] said the only option that gives both the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back what they need is Concept D. He said they need to let it be known Summit County is opposed to the connection, but other facets consider both sides of the mountain.
Dick said his concern is that the Salt Lake Valley has an unlimited supply of demand. Park City and Summit County have a limited supply. If we open the conduit so the two can meet and fill that demand, we’re going to get fundamentally ruined as Park City and Summit County.