Park City’s City Council discussed a range of issues from walkability to small business relief funds at their weekly meeting on Thursday evening.
Since the voters of Park City approved a $15 million “walkability” bond in 2007, the city has spent over $10 million improving paths, bridges, and intersections in Park City.
With just under $5 million left in the fund, the city has around $600,000 set aside for this year’s projects, which include improved bike lanes on Deer Valley Drive and S.R. 224, stairs in Old Town, and bike corrals on Main Street.
However, funding for future projects presents an interesting challenge for city government. With many big projects yet to be completed, the city council debated the priority of several spendy items on Thursday.
Pedestrian safety around the intersection of Park Avenue and Kearns Boulevard, as well as on side streets like Snow Creek Drive, has only become more of an issue as Park City has grown in recent years.
Councilmember Max Doilney says projects around those issues should be prioritized.
“The lion’s share of our residents now live on that side of town and all the good stuff is on this side of the road and traffic is not getting better,” he said.
Another expensive future project is a proposed crossing above or belowBonanza Drive near the future Arts and Culture District and Prospector Square. With that project expected to cost millions of dollars, the council agreed to explore the possibility of linking funding for that project to the construction budget for the Arts and Culture District instead of the walkability fund.
The council will also be looking into options to continue funding walkability projects after the 2007 bond money runs out. One proposal floated by Mayor Andy Beerman on Thursday was earmarking a percentage of the budget used for city transit to fund future walkability projects. The council voted to research this option and present the findings at a future council meeting.
The health of Park City’s small businesses was also a top priority on Thursday. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city council voted to approve a $250,000 small business support program that is separate from federal coronavirus relief funds. With the pandemic yet to let up in Utah, the council debated the best course of action going forward.
Councilo Steve Joyce says although some businesses were ultimately able to adapt to the situation and are having a successful summer, many others are struggling. 40% of respondents to a recent Park City Chamber survey said their businesses would not survive another 3-12 months if nothing changed.
Joyce says the hard part will be identifying businesses that could benefit the most from help from the city.
“There’s a number of companies that are just really impacted by this downturn but given the right chance, they’re modifying their business and they’re finding ways to adapt,” he said. “Some of those are going to kind of figure it out and make it work. There’s other businesses that simply aren’t.”
CouncilorTim Henney also expressed his strong belief the funds should be distributed as grants and not loans. He says he does not want to further burden businesses in the future.
“I only have interest in grants,” Henney said. “I don’t want to make these loans. I don’t want to make them conditioned. These are grants. If we’re not doing grants, I’m really not interested, quite honestly.”
Due to the seasonal nature of Park City’s economy, the council decided it would be best to hold off on distributing any of their relief money in the near future and instead continue to monitor the situation as the winter tourist season approaches.
Mail delivery in Old Town was also on the agenda. Park City’s post office is unable to deliver mail to many residences in Old Town due to the neighborhood’s steep and narrow streets. Citizens in Old Town who want mail must use a PO box.
The city council voted down allowing cluster mailboxes in Old Town in both 2011 and 2013, citing right-of-way issues and aesthetics as the main reasons. With the Post Office now willing to deliver to cluster mailboxes, the council moved to conduct a survey to determine how many Old Town addresses would need to be served by the Post Office before making any decisions.
The next city council meeting is set to take place on Thursday, July 30.