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Historic Park City Alliance ‘Hopefully Optimistic’ For Winter Season

Historic Park City Main Street Alliance

At last week’s Historic Park City Alliance business community meeting, several topics were discussed -- including changes to winter parking, the status of 2021 events, and an update to the city’s winter sales tax outlook.

Paid parking in Old Town Park City is set to resume on December 18th. 

Paid parking has been suspended since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is scheduled to change in the coming weeks with several areas, including the China Bridge parking garage, to begin charging for parking this winter.

Historic Park City Alliance Executive Director Alison Kuhlow told KPCW parking was not an urgent issue for Old Town businesses over the summer and fall. She said lots were typically full during car-free Sundays, though, and with more people expected to travel to Park City by car this winter, the Alliance is in support of the city’s efforts to reduce traffic issues through paid parking.

“We saw high numbers of visitors this summer and we were parking out the parking garage on Sundays, but that was because we were missing all the parking spaces that were typically on Main Street,” Kuhlow explained. “We’re anticipating to see more cars driving to main street this summer with people wanting to have their own vehicle versus riding public transportation or a shared vehicle. We do think we’re going to have more people come and the best way to mitigate parking is to have people pay for it.”  

Traffic and parking brings up another question: With so many traditional 2020 community events scrapped due to health concerns during the pandemic, what’s the status for next year with a vaccine now within reach? 

Kuhlow said major events are on the calendar, but when and if they happen are still up in the air, at least for now.  

“Those events that are large-scale, whether it be the arts festival or Tour of Utah, they’re still talking 2021, they still have dates on their calendars and at this point, I think we’re in a wait and see, but people are actively planning for 2021 events,” said Kuhlow. “Whether or not they’re able to launch is still unknown.”

One event that did happen this year was Main Street’s car-free Sundays. With the cancellation of the traditional Silly Market, local businesses were allowed to take things to the street one day a week. The events proved to be incredibly popular and many businesses actually reported better sales than they have during the Silly Market.

Kuhlow says the Silly Market is contracted through 2021, but the future of Main Street business events will be a topic of discussion for HPCA going forward. 

“We have this kind of interesting dynamic that we really want to talk through, and that’s something we’re going to do at our December meeting, starting to understand what’s already set in place for 2021 with regards to the Silly Market and how do we want to enhance that,” Kuhlow said.

A more immediate worry for local businesses is what the upcoming winter tourist season will look like.

Although the end of the pandemic looks to be in sight, the virus is still spreading rapidly in Utah and across much of the United States, making predicting the number of visitors to the area this winter a tricky proposition.

Kuhlow said a better than expected summer is definitely encouraging as the snow begins to fall, but predictions for the winter still vary. She said they are hoping to only see a 25-30% decrease, but some estimates are as high as 40%. As is the case with so many things in 2020, it’s a waiting game. 

“It’s a wait and see,” she said. “I think it depends on how the cases are in our area, but I think it also is about travel and the safety that people feel and how it’s going to change with a majority of our tourists typically coming in from flights from other areas. At this point, I think we’re hopefully optimistic for this winter.”

The next Historic Park City Alliance board meeting is tentatively scheduled for December 15th.