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Park City Council looks at new parking rules and charges; moves ahead on Rail Trail planning

Parking gridlock at Park City Mountain on February 12, 2022.jpg
KPCW
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KPCW
Cars try to access a busy Park City Mountain parking lot on February 12, 2022

The Park City Council talked last week about how to prevent downtown from becoming an overflow parking lot for PCMR visitors this winter. The council also heard opposition to widening the Rail Trail and voted to allow construction of a home on an empty parcel in the Fox Tail Trail subdivision.

With Vail introducing paid parking and a required reservation system for people arriving at PCMR by car this winter, Park City officials said they’re going to ensure that surrounding areas downtown don’t become overrun with resort visitor parking.

In a work session, the city council discussed charging for daytime parking, at rates designed to deter resort visitors; for example, a low rate for two hours to encourage shopping and dining visits, but a higher rate for additional hours. The council is also looking at adding more ‘resident parking only’ signage to Thaynes Canyon, Prospector, and making those signs bigger.

Council members stressed that all plans are preliminary. Council member Ryan Dickey said that with paid parking being brand new, the city will adjust strategies as the season progresses.

With Vail introducing paid parking and a required reservation system for people arriving at PCMR by car this winter, Park City officials said they’re going to ensure that surrounding areas downtown don’t become overrun with resort visitors.

In a work session, the city council discussed charging for daytime parking, at rates designed to deter resort visitors; for example, a low rate for two hours to encourage shopping and dining visits, but increasing the rate for a third hour beyond the $25 resort parking charge. The council is also looking at adding more ‘resident parking only’ signage to Thaynes Canyon and Prospector and making those signs bigger.

Council members stressed that all plans are preliminary. Council member Ryan Dickey said that with paid parking being brand new, the city will adjust strategies as the season progresses.

“I think you're gonna see us try some things and change some things,” Dickey said. “What we don't want is for old town to become overflow parking from the resort. I think that the logic was if the cost is the same well then if the lots are full we'll just go park on Main Street, fill up China bridge and locals can't get to Main Street. So the idea is to come up with a parking system that isn't punitive to locals and allows folks to come to Main Street.”

The council also discussed setting up a special permit process for residents who want temporary extra parking for things like parties. Staff said special permits are easier to deal with than annual permits.

The next step for the city’s plans will be door-to-door outreach in neighborhoods that will be most affected.

About a dozen residents weighed in at the meeting to oppose proposed changes to the Rail Trail, which follows the route of the former Union Pacific Railroad line through Park City and out to Echo Reservoir. That trail is 28 miles long, paved, and for non-motorized use only. It’s grown congested in recent years, and changes like widening it are aimed at improving safety by giving people more space, and separating pedestrians from people on wheels.

But not all residents agreed that that would work, or even that it was needed. Some said the trail was busy during the COVID-19 shutdown, but that’s dropped off. Others said a wider trail will just give people room to go faster.

Plenty of discussion centered on the risks of people, especially children, riding e-bikes.

“Now we have a new third rail of Park City politics, which is e-bikes; we can add it to the list,” Dickey said. “I think we have to talk about e-bikes and of course there are different classes of e-bikes that are e-bikes that are driven by some pretty young people without even a driver's license and they're and they're going fast. So we talked about widening the trail whether that's the right answer the wrong answer. The goal is to separate those users and to reduce trail conflicts. And I think we will have to you know, all kidding aside, come back and talk about e-bikes as it relates to trails.”

Proposed Rail Trail changes also include adding amenities like bathrooms and benches

The council unanimously approved moving forward with a strategic document, but didn’t approve any specifics for what will be done. The approval merely gives city staff the green light to keep working on a proposal.

The council did give specifics on another project that has faced neighbor and abutter opposition. The 10,000-sqare-foot home in the Fox Tail Trail subdivision going to be built, to the dismay of dozens of residents who wanted that rejected in part because it will mean the end of a well-used trail cut-through.

Opposition has been vocal regarding putting a home on that parcel, but City Planner Alex Ananth said in the meeting that the project complies with existing zoning and land use agreements.

A ¾-acre chunk of the 4-acre parcel fell into in the city’s recreation and open space zone. When the council expressed concern about a private lot containing some land zoned for the public’s use, the developer promptly said he’d carve it off the project and deed it to the city.

City attorney Margaret Plane said that could be done on the spot, and after doing so, the council unanimously approved the project.

Council member Max Doilney said he sympathized with neighbors but the council needed to move forward. He said “Every box has been checked and then some” by the developer.

Michelle, who joined KPCW in 2021, arrived in Utah in 2018 by way of Massachusetts, where the skiing was icy and the mosquitoes formidable. A former daily newspaper reporter and editor (at the Visalia Times-Delta in CA) and columnist (at The Cohasset Mariner in MA), Michelle has been a writer and editor for decades. She holds a journalism degree from CSU Fresno and has worked as a journalist, freelance writer and web content creator, reporting extensively on education and youth along with general assignment and breaking news.