PCMR Base Discussion Raises Regional Parking and Transit Questions
The Park City Planning Commission took another look at the proposed base development project at Park City Mountain Resort Wednesday night -- this time tackling how parking and transportation fit into the plans.
Traffic and transportation are not problems isolated to Park City Mountain Resort. How people get in and out of Park City is a year-round issue with the city increasingly becoming more than just a ski destination.
Park City’s geography also complicates solutions to those problems. There are only two major roads in and out of town that are open all year: State Routes 224 and 248. With surrounding mountains so close, there is also no realistic ability to expand inside city limits, making space for parking and additional lanes of traffic in very short supply.
The developer for the base area, PEG companies, wants to maintain the current 1,200 day-skier parking stalls at the base area and add paid parking as a way to push more people towards riding the bus. They say this approach aligns with Park City’s “transit first” goals.
Concerns have been raised by planning commissioners and the public that more base parking could be needed to accommodate additional visitors attracted by the proposed hotel, retail spaces, and restaurants.
Planning Commission Chairman John Phillips said he believes strongly in the city’s transit first philosophy as the solution to this problem.
“The roads cannot handle more traffic,” said Phillips. “Period. We have one option, and if we put the parking in, we’re putting the cart before the horse and the bus system won’t work, it never will. The best option we have is transit, otherwise the quality of life is gonna go down drastically. This is the number one reason I became a planning commissioner seven years ago, it was traffic.”
Further complicating the issue is the fact that PEG can only control the land it owns at the base, and Park City can only dictate what happens inside city limits.
With visitors coming from across the region needing to park their cars and limited satellite parking capacity inside Park City, a transit solution involving surrounding counties is what some on the commission want to see.
Commissioner John Kenworthy said he wants more data on where the people visiting Park City are actually coming from, and which roads they take into town. He also pointed out that many different stakeholders actually have to come to the table if a real solution is to be found.
“Parkites have spoken and they want a bold solution,” Kenworthy said. “Keyword, solution. What we have here as a city is limited by the jurisdiction we have on this plan. We can’t hold Wasatch County responsible, Salt Lake County, we can’t hold Summit County, but this solution has now fully been disclosed tonight, has jurisdictions from all around us, multiple counties. Counties that have never cooperated with a transit plan.”
Some members of the public agree with Kenworthy’s take. Nancy Lazenby lives on Empire Avenue at the base area and is the co-founder of the community group RRAD, or the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition. She thinks the commission should be looking at transit as more than just a Park City Mountain Resort problem.
“If you think of this whole city as a whole, we have the Park City development -- the parking lot -- we have Snow Park talking about developing, we have employees here in town that need to park somewhere,” she said. “So as a whole, the commission, unfortunately, is looking at each project individually, but as a whole, we need a lot of parking and we don’t know where to put those parking spots as Kenworthy pointed out because the research hasn’t been done to know where the people are coming from.”
Groundbreaking has been delayed until at least 2023 as the groups involved work to hammer out aspects of the project including the height of proposed buildings. The work sessions are geared toward getting everyone involved to reach a final decision on whether and how to proceed.
The next planning commission meeting where the development will be discussed is scheduled for September 15th.