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Park City Planning Commission sees new images, disagrees on dropoff plan for Park City Mountain Resort

PEG PCMR street rendering
PEG Companies
PEG presented a series of new renderings for its proposal to develop the base area of Park City Mountain Resort on Wednesday.

The Park City Planning Commission saw a series of long-awaited renderings of the proposal to develop the base area of Park City Mountain Resort yesterday Wednesday. There was also a hearty debate about skier drop-off plans.

After accusations of misleading project images for PCMR’s base development were made by some residents, the developer returned with new pictures this week, saying they’re the most accurate depiction of the project possible.

The developer, PEG Companies, has maintained that it never presented misleading images to the planning commission.

Three images were presented on Wednesday night: two aerial drone pictures -- one from the north of the parking lots and one from the south -- as well as a street-level view of the resort entrance at the intersection of Empire Avenue and Silver King Drive.

Project architect Emir Tursic explained how the pictures were taken.

“What you see here is actually a professional image with the exact coordinates, latitude, elevation, and field of view that we have taken," he said. "We have actually retained a professional drone photographer to take these images, which give us as realistic and accurate of a view that we can depict, not only of the mountain range and existing conditions, but all of the existing buildings that are surrounding our project.”

Tursic added that after the location information was factored in, a computer-generated rendering of the proposed buildings was added to provide a view of the project from the perspective of someone standing on the street.

Commissioners were largely satisfied with the new images, but Commissioner Laura Suesser asked to see sidewalks added into the computer models in the future.

Suesser was also outspoken in her criticism of the proposed ski club dropoff plans. The plan presented on Wednesday would temporarily block off a row of underground parking stalls for 90 minutes in the morning to provide space for 20 cars in an active unloading zone, similar to how airport terminals or schools operate. PEG says the zone could cycle through up to 600 cars per hour. Suesser was not convinced the proposal was better than what is currently in place at the base area.

“I think that what PEG has proposed with this coned off underground parking stalls for only an hour-and-a-half in the mornings on certain days is still woefully inadequate," Suesser said. "I think the way that the base operates now and the location of dropoff closer to First Time [chairlift], I think that what PEG has proposed is not an improvement on the dropoff and pickup situation that we currently have.”

Commissioner Bill Johnson shared many of Suesser’s concerns and said the underground location, as well as only accommodating 20 cars at a time were his worries.

Kara Boyer is Vail Resort’s Director of Land Use and Community Development and pushed back on the criticisms of the dropoff plan. She said Vail fully supports the proposed system and has similar configurations at other resorts around the country that operate successfully.

“As the resort operator and ultimately, probably the party that will be managing the garage, this works for us," she said. "I think it’s important for the planning commission to understand that our guest experience is the primary driver of operations. We want our guests to have the best experience possible, and it starts the second they get anywhere near the resort. We, as mountain operator, are fully supportive and feel this absolutely will work, and that it is an improvement over what is there today.” 

PEG Vice President of Development Robert Schmidt said he is confident in the company’s plans.

“We do feel like we’ve provided a lot of material in 3D perspectives," said Schmidt. "It’s been over a year, and I think we’ve presented multiple times all of that information. At this point, I think we’re going to let our proposal stand and ask you to deliberate and make a decision based on the information we’ve submitted.”

The next planning commission meeting for the PCMR base project is scheduled for November 17th. The Park City Planning Department has indicated a positive or negative recommendation from the commission to the city council could come before the end of 2021.

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.