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Park City Council Approves $150k for Summer Programs at Arts District Site

Park City Municipal

The Park City Council approved $150,000 for temporary summer programming at the site of the proposed arts and culture district last week. Some community concerns were raised about hosting events at a property known to contain soil from Park City’s mining days, but the city maintains the area is safe.


Although discussions around the ultimate fate of Park City’s arts and culture district are still ongoing, the city council voted to approve summer programming at the site on Thursday.


The programming will run from August to October and includes events like music, food trucks, and a free “transit to trails” program to take people from the parking lot at the site up to Bonanza Flat.


The soil at the location of the arts and culture property, along with much of the Old Town area, contains some level of chemicals like lead and arsenic in mine tailings left over from the city’s days as a mining town. Councilor Nann Worel expressed concern about using the $150,000 budgeted for the programs when there were still questions from the public about the status of the soil at the site.


“I think it’s great to have the transit to trails, because those parking lots are already there and I don’t have any issue with that,” Worel said. “I do have an issue about activating the rest of that site until we’re sure about the soils. There are so many questions out in the community about what really is under all of that? When are we going to do the soil drillings? I can’t help but think it would be a better use of the $150,000 to go ahead and do those soils samplings now so we know exactly what we’re dealing with on that site, because that’s going to inform future conversations.”


The topic of soil has been an explosive one in Park City over the past few months as the arts district plans continue to take shape and the city continues to look into a disposal site for the dirt within city limits. Members of the community have been critical of the process surrounding both projects at recent public forums.


Several councilors, including Becca Gerber and Max Doilney, pushed back on Worel’s comments, saying the city has conducted soil testing at the site, most notably when the city purchased the land in 2017. They added if the council decides to move forward with the arts district, more testing will be done before further excavation begins.


City Events Manager Jenny Diersen told the council the summer programming is being planned in consultation with the Summit County Health Department to ensure public safety.


“One of the important things about special events is we coordinate with not only every department in the city, but also with certain and important departments within the county, and that includes the health department,” said Diersen. “For example, when we’re talking about doing activation on the site, bringing food trucks, doing types of activations, they’re there with us to make sure it’s done safely. Whatever material that we might use to put down to mitigate the dust, they will be there to make sure that it’s a safe material for our community, just like they’ve been in the past five, 10, 15 years.”


The city recently completed demolition of several structures at the site and those areas are to be covered and fenced off.


The programming budget was passed 4-1, with Worel as the lone vote against the proposal.


Gerber told KPCW concerns over the soil, which is also called “Bevill-Exempt,” are heard by the council. She said it’s also important for the public to understand the soil is nearly everywhere in the downtown area and is not as contained in other popular parts of town as it is at the site of the arts district.


“Really, I think it’s one of those things, it’s just the soil that you’re going to find anywhere in town,” she said. “It’s really important for people to keep in mind that we live in a mining community where there are those Bevill-Exempt soils exposed on our trails, along the Rail Trail, if you’re out in Round Valley, if you’re hiking up on the mountain. It’s really important that we not be too reactionary about these things because they are around town and in this area, at least they are capped and covered and we don’t really feel like there’s any imminent threat in that area.”


More details on the programming are expected to be released by the city in the coming weeks. The council has also been closing in on a decision for the arts district, which could be made this summer.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.
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