Park City Residents Explain How They Successfully Appealed New Lifts

Park City Residents Explain How They Successfully Appealed New Lifts

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Park City Residents Explain How They Successfully Appealed New Lifts

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“The parking lots fill up before 8 a.m…Overflow parking was triggered 68 days last winter that we know of for certain, and there’s likely more, except that the city stopped sending out text message alerts midseason.”– Angela Moschetta, Park City Resident who appealed Vail Resorts Epic Lift Upgrades.

The tensions between locals and Park City Mountain Resort in Utah don’t appear to be simmering down anytime soon. KPCW and the Salt Lake Tribune spoke with the four appellants to Park City’s proposed Epic Lift Upgrades for the 2022-23 season, who helped successfully stall the projects until at least the 2023-24 season. Their goal of this process is to figure out the secret formula for Park City’s crowding issues: Comfortable Carrying Capacity (CCC).

Comfortable Carrying Capacity is defined as the fluid number of people a ski resort can handle before it becomes overcrowded and looks like that Visa commercial.

This number can be affected by varying circumstances, such as pandemic restrictions, lift closures, and terrain closures can have on the mountain. It is determined by dividing the vertical supply by the vertical demand. Vertical supply is the amount of people lifts can carry up a day, and vertical demand is the number of laps that a skier can make on the lift per day, but it’s a complex figure that can be altered from the length of a run and nearby lodges.

The CCC is a number that is generally well protected by ski resorts unless the ski resort is on public land and is undergoing a master development plan.

For the new lift proposals, they marked the Comfortable Carrying Capacity as 12,570. This is in contrast to their 13,700 CCC in their 1998 master development agreement, where they outlined their planned new lifts in the coming years. This is a very surprising decrease, as the mountain now serves as a hub destination for Vails Epic Pass, and it is also directly accessible from the Canyons side of the mountain via a gondola, which wasn’t the case during the 1998 master development plan.

The appellants thought this number was misleading, and they want to figure out how this number was calculated. The Park City Planning Commission agreed with this take, leading to the successful appeal. Chris Cushing, an owner and lead designer at SE Group, helped Park City Mountain develop these numbers. He cited the CCC reduction due to the Canyons merger, along with  “improvements in ski technology and infrastructure since the 1998 assessment.”

The appellants opposed the new lifts for a variety of reasons. They are dismayed at the overwhelming traffic, crazy lift lines, and insufficient parking lots at the resort and throughout town. Paid parking will now be a daily occurrence at the Park City Mountain Village, which they were also not stoked about. They want to see Vail continue to invest in the town of Park City, which is dealing with a housing crisis. One of the appellants wants to see Vail replace the Town Lift as well, which is an old fixed-grip triple that services the heart of the city’s Main Street. If Vail doesn’t increase their transparency, one of the appellants is planning to sue them.

The proposed additions would have added two new detachable chairlifts to Park City, and removed three older lifts. The Silverlode chairlift, which is a six-pack, was going to be replaced by an eight-pack chairlift, the first for Vail Resorts in North America. It is a mid-mountain chokepoint that features some of the longest lines at the resort. The Eagle and Eaglet chairlift was going to be replaced by a high-speed six-pack chairlift with a mid-station. This is designed to have a major lift at the other base pod in the Park City Mountain Village, as the Payday and Crescent Express lifts get typically overwhelmed during peak periods.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Park City Mountain Resort employees move parts designated for the resort's new Eagle lift, Thursday, July 7, 2022. Residents last month temporarily blocked the resort from being able to install the lift because of discrepancies in resort capacities by two firms.

In spite of this victory, the projects are still very likely to happen at some point in the future. Park City has been receiving the parts for the new lifts throughout the summer in the Mountain Village parking lot, as shown in the picture above. They will likely store them away and prepare for installation next summer. In the meantime, Vail Resorts will likely need to update their Comfortable Carrying Capacity numbers to reflect their rapidly changing demand for the Utah resort since the late 1990s and try to bridge a growing gap between locals that are perturbed by the Epic crowds.Image Credits:

Park City Mountain Resort, Salt Lake Tribune

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