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Park City leaders look to Colorado towns for ideas

Members of Leadership Class 28 and Park City and Summit County officials toured Sun Valley in 2022.
Leadership Park City
Members of Leadership Class 28 and Park City and Summit County officials toured Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2022.

A group of 62 Park City and Summit County officials and members of Leadership Class 29 will travel to Estes Park and Fort Collins.

This is the 50th tour the founder of Leadership Park City, Myles Rademan, has arranged of western towns to see how they deal with issues facing their communities. Originally, the tours were for elected and appointed officials like city and county council members and planning commissioners or those thinking about running for office. More recently members of the Leadership class have joined in.

Rademan said the tour is “just to show that other people are dealing with similar problems and trying to figure out solutions.” He added, “Sometimes when we live in these areas, we get very encased in our own bubble. And we forget that other people are smart to come up with solutions that we might not have thought of.”

This year participants will go to the towns of Fort Collins and Estes Park, which were last visited in 2011 and 1999. Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

“They get over 5 million visitors a year because Rocky Mountain National Park, I guess, is only second to one or two other national parks, maybe like Yosemite, as the most popular National Park in the country,” Rademan said. “So, a huge number of people go through there. So, they're clearly a gateway community, and they deal with a huge number of an influx like we do.”

Fort Collins is a college town that has exploded since Rademan first visited some 40 years ago.

“When I first took a group there, I think in the 80s, it had about less than 100,000 people,” Rademan said. “And now the metro area, it's 350,000 people in the Fort Collins region. So, it has really grown up and it has a lot of industry there. And it is a college town, of course, Colorado State University is there, and it has become a lifestyle community. So, it kind of straddles a number of categories, as we do here in Park City now.”

He says the tours help the group learn what other communities grapple with, and the topics are familiar to the Park City area.

“All these communities are talking about childcare. They’re all talking about retaining employees, and affordable housing. They're all talking about what does economic development mean, in light of sustainable tourism practices," Rademan said. "But probably even more important part, is we've grown, and our community has gotten more diverse. It's really good to get people away and out of their zip code for five days, and they get to know each other better. And I think that pays long term dividends to our community.”

Tour participants who do not work for the Park City or Summit County pay their own way for food, transportation and lodging. The costs for city and county staff who join the tour are included in the annual budget.