“We’re packed,” Park City Council member Becca Gerber told Park City Mountain Resort Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar at the Feb. 16 meeting to address recently expressed concerns about overcrowding. The council did a good job voicing community concerns about traffic congestion, parking, impacts to neighborhoods, and overall visitor/resident experiences at our city’s largest ski resort. For all of us who live here, work here and love Park City, traffic and parking problems seem to be worsening. What used to be a holiday concern now seems to be a daily occurrence.
Skiing, it goes without saying, defines the Parkite lifestyle, and we’re keenly sensitive to changes to our experience on the slopes. At the same time, people naturally connect complaints at PCMR with other concerns associated with overdevelopment, “corporatization” or “Disneyfication.” Similar concerns are popping up in small communities around the country.
Traffic and parking are complex issues whose solutions take time to identify and implement. Impatience is understandable when our beloved town seems to be bursting at the seams. Waiting in long lines, feeling you’re dodging people on the slopes, in the grocery store, in parking lots and on the road is frustrating.
It is just as natural to take it out on the most prominent corporate entity around — and that means PCMR. But is that fair? Our heavy traffic and large crowds are not necessarily due to one company’s activities. Data shows our frustration may be getting the better of literal reality. Goar told the council that visitation is similar to past years, that PCMR has set no new peak day records this season and that the resort now has more lifts operating than any ski resort in North America — even though not all lifts are open.
One of the things I love about Park City is our positive, tolerant and gracious culture. We love to support each other and solve problems together. Avoiding negativity while working as one seems to be the way we are. We should keep that wonderful attribute top of mind when things get heated. Our issues require cooperation, not conflict, to achieve solutions we can all accept.
Rather than place blame, I can think of a dozen better ways Parkites address challenges: collaboration, partnership, mutual respect, innovation, thoughtfulness, kindness and shared love of community. We may not recognize that by targeting a specific corporation for criticism, we inadvertently take aim at the thousands of people who work there and are doing their best — our friends, our neighbors, our community.
I listened carefully to Mike’s comments at the meeting, and I’m convinced PCMR is doing its best to be a community partner as well as an economic driver. As Mayor Nann Worel said, “The way forward is a solutions-oriented partnership with the emphasis on partnership.” Partnership requires everyone to contribute to the conversation and welcome PCMR’s efforts to be part of the solution. Negativity does not get us there.
Since I arrived in Park City 18 months ago, I have found many role models — people whose love for nature and the outdoors, for our environment and wildlife, finds expression in their caring attitude toward their fellow humans.
Following their example, let’s strive to be grateful for all we have, thankful for the hard-working people who come in every day, respectful towards everyone and committed to bringing a positive voice to the search for solutions. It’s just the Park City way.