Some 200 Park City community members attended the Park City Future Summit Wednesday evening to discuss issues and opportunities on Park City’s horizon.
Park City Municipal and project consultant Future IQ presented data collected from the city’s Vision 2020 process so far, including 810 community survey responses since June, results from a 35-person think tank session and information from dozens of community workshops.
A major takeaway from the data identifies the future Park City community members seem to want versus the future they think they’ll have by continuing the current path. Think tank participants called the preferred future “Embracing Bold Change,” where Park City remains an iconic mountain town, but the community moves toward becoming more diverse and inclusive. The expected future is referred to as “Amusement Park City,” where growth and over tourism result in loss of quality of life.
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman says it’s disheartening the community doesn’t appear to be confident in its ability to shape its future.
“Park City is incredibly fortunate," Beerman said. "We have massive financial and human resources, so really all we need to do is have focus and will to solve many of these problems.”
During live polling of the audience, participants had many thoughts on the topic of sustainable tourism. Most either said they were somewhat worried about the balance between quality of life and the resort economy or that the balance is already thrown off.
One person said the city has been chasing problems related to the resort economy, like a lack of affordable housing, for decades, without getting ahead of them. Another attendee pointed to an indicator of the impact of tourism—he can’t afford to eat on Main Street anymore, and he bets a lot of people in town have the same experience.
“Quality of life is I have to go somewhere else to enjoy the aspects of Park City that used to be readily available to the average citizen here.”
One participant responded with a more optimistic view. As a business owner on Main Street, she says it’s challenging to do 80% of the year’s business during the three-month peak winter season. But that means there’s nine months where locals can enjoy their town.
“I feel like it's kind of a small sacrifice, those 17 weeks, for all the amenities and all the privileges that we have in this city.”
A small business owner says the presence of large, national companies in town makes it difficult to staff up.
“We're competing with these gigantic corporations that can either offer more money or benefits or things that we can't do, so that is another concern. How do you maintain the small local businesses when we're competing for the same resources, and they're fewer and far between because they're moving farther and farther out of town?”
Beerman says the community can address its concerns if they agree on what needs to be done and work together.
"A lot of folks look backwards and say, 'the best days were the good old days,'" Beerman said. "I really believe if we nail this, if we can move forward in a positive way, our best days could still be ahead."
Community members—those who live or work in the Park City area—can still give input through the community survey. The final Vision 2020 report will be presented early next year.