Park City Council to review special event plans, which could include drone show on July 4
Special events this summer, including a big change to Park City’s Fourth of July celebration, will start Thursday’s Park City Council meeting.
The city’s events department wants to run a drone show on the night of July 4, to create an alternative in lieu of fireworks, which poses wildfire risks.
Park City hasn’t had a fireworks performance on the Fourth of July since 2019. Drone shows have grown in popularity in recent years, particularly for city celebrations in the Salt Lake Valley. Canyons Village used them for their Independence Day festivities for the first time last year.
The events department has requested $60,000 in the city’s budget for the drone show, which requires council approval.
Park City Manager Matt Dias said it’s their approach to a hot debate.
“For whatever reason this is a relatively controversial issue and there are a lot of people that say, ‘To hell with it, it’s the Fourth of July, you guys are nuts. Put on the fireworks. This is ridiculous,’" Dias said. “On the other hand, we have a lot of residents that are living right at the interface of these wildlands, and they’re very concerned about their safety.”
The council is also slated to discuss the future of the Park Silly Sunday Market and the possibility of programming events at the city-owned land at Kearns and Bonanza.
The Park Silly Sunday Market previously received a one-year contract extension for this summer, but it will be limited to lower Main Street. Its prospects for staying on Main Street are unclear, especially amid wide opposition from local businesses that accuse the festival of stealing customers.
Later in the meeting the council could approve plans to extend stairwells around Old Town. For a little over $1.4 million, the city plans to build stairs along 9th and 10th streets, which would run two blocks up from Park Ave. to Norfolk Ave.
The council is scheduled to end the meeting by going over a policy about free expression on city property, like flagpoles and the lighting of the McPolin Barn.
The staff report cites a Supreme Court case that found the City of Boston violated a religious organization’s First Amendment rights by denying an application to fly a “Christian flag.”
The staff report says the case illustrates how allowing one group to use government property for free expression could lead to a situation where the government could have little control.
The council will discuss Thursday whether it should endorse a policy that says flagpoles are not for free expression, and should only be used for government flags that have prior approval.
Park City LGBTQ+ task force member Joe Urankar said the Boston case doesn’t tell the full story, and the issue as a whole deserves a deeper discussion.
“There’s also numerous cases out there of other cities that have flown flags, and lit buildings, and made public statements and all kinds of things, without being forced to also make statements for other groups," Urankar said. "So there are processes here that we could as a community establish to say — what are our values? And what do we want to speak to? And what process do we want to implement? To make sure that it’s equitable for everyone and we’re not forced to speak against our own values.”
The meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. in city council chambers at the Marsac Building. The agenda and a link to attend virtually can be found here.