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Park City open house draws large crowd, a rarity during coronavirus era



PARK CITY, Utah – Mayor Andy Beerman stopped to chat with Parkites on Tuesday evening.

And some of the members of the Park City Council were present as well on the patio outside the Park City Library.

City Hall hosted an open house designed to provide information about a wide range of municipal projects and programs. And although the people in attendance were interested in the various stations dedicated to individual projects and programs, it was quickly apparent the gathering took on greater meaning with the open house becoming among the largest City Hall-organized events held in person in the more than a year since the novel coronavirus-forced shutdowns in the spring of 2020.

The municipal government estimated approximately 100 people attended on Tuesday evening. The event was held outside and most of the people in attendance wore masks even though they were not required to wear them. There were refreshments available, but most of them had not been consumed toward the end of the event. Some of the people appeared to be hesitant in the crowd while others readily engaged one another and the City Hall staffers manning the tables dedicated to projects and programs.

“I’m excited to see a crowd, people, gathered,” City Councilman Tim Henney said in an interview, describing the event as “packed” and indicating he was surprised with the strong attendance.

Henney said Parkites want to gather with others after the year-plus of the pandemic.

“We’re all chomping at the bit to get out and do something,” he said, adding, “People are social. They want to get out.”

The open house is an annual event that offers an opportunity for attendees to learn about the broad municipal work plan in a single setting. The approximately 100 people in attendance on Tuesday beat the upward of 80 people the events normally attract when they are held inside.

City Hall and other government institutions since last spring have conducted meetings and other sorts of events, such as panel discussions, online rather than in person. The open house was not an official meeting, nor did it resemble one, but it was an early step by the municipal government toward returning to live events.

Officials are expected to begin holding live meetings again shortly, with the City Council and the Park City Planning Commission being the most notable of the municipal government’s panels that will return to the Marsac Building. Those meetings are anticipated to be conducted with some sort of restrictions to guard against the further spread of the sickness, but details are not known.

The crowd outside the library included people from disparate Park City neighborhoods and people with diverse interests. Some are members of the opposition to a proposed development at the base of Park City Mountain Resort while others are longtime activists.

The tables covered numerous topics of importance at City Hall. People studied visual aids like maps and asked questions of the staffers. There was information about transportation projects and trails, as examples.

A map of upcoming transportation projects included information about the installation of a traffic signal along S.R. 248 at Richardson Flat, a connection between the Rail Trail and parking lots in Prospector as well as new striping planned on a section of Deer Valley Drive as a traffic-calming measure and as a means to improve the bicycling experience.

Other possibilities presented at the open house included a widening of the Rail Trail, transit improvements on S.R. 224 and several pedestrian-bicyclist tunnels, such as one at the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive.

A list of potential pedestrian connections and trail improvements included work in the area of Snow Creek and a striping of a route along McLeod Creek from Snow Creek to a location close to Temple Har Shalom. The list also included trails in Bonanza Flat, Park City Heights and the Treasure hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.

The Park City Ice Arena presented information about an upcoming replacement of the dehumidifier while waterworks staffers addressed topics like water quality.

There was also information available about a concept to build a facility known as a repository to store contaminated soils that is under consideration along the S.R. 248 entryway. The setup dedicated to the repository attracted a steady stream of people.