Park City could turn into ‘Aspen on steroids’ with a second Olympics

Jay Hamburger
The Park Record
A watch party was held at the Utah Olympic Park during the Winter Olympics earlier in 2022. The discussions about the prospects of hosting another Games in Utah are continuing in the Park City area with a series of gatherings billed as community conversations. | Park Record file photo
The Park Record archive

PARK CITY — Jeff Lee, a Jeremy Ranch resident, lived in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Olympics, and supports the efforts for this region to host a second Olympic Games.

But Lee has concerns about the prospects of another Olympics impacting the affordability of the Park City area, where housing is already the most expensive in the state. Lee was one of the attendees at a recent gathering at the Park City Library that was part of a series of events billed as community conversations about an Olympics bid.

In an interview at the event, Lee said he is worried another Olympics would lead to more properties becoming vacation homes in the Park City area. A Games could exacerbate longtime Park City challenges, he said, explaining that he is concerned about young people’s ability to afford to live in Park City in the future.

“I think it’s going to only worsen that problem, that problem of affordability, living in Summit County, Park City,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be Aspen on steroids.”

The comments by Lee seem to encapsulate some of the concerns of a wider swath of the Park City community nearly four years after the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee selected Salt Lake City as the nation’s bid city for a future Winter Olympics. The Park City area would have a major role in a Games, including competition venues identified at Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and the Utah Olympic Park.

The gatherings, which continue in late October and early November with online sessions, are some of the first organized opportunities for people to offer opinions about the Olympic efforts in a formal setting centered on the Games since the late-2018 selection of Salt Lake City as the nation’s bid city.

The recent event at the library was the sixth such gathering. Organizers said the events typically drew between 15 and 25 people each. City Hall and the County Courthouse tapped the Park City-based Mountain Mediation Center to manage the gatherings.

Mountain Mediation Center prohibited The Park Record from taking notes during the event at the library. A representative from the organization said the gatherings will be summarized in a report that will be provided to Park City and Summit County officials by the middle of November.

One of the issues broached at the library gathering was the slow times for business during the 2001-2002 ski season before and after the Games that February. The group did not seem to dwell on any one topic and instead repeatedly moved between subjects. The group included people from Park City and the Snyderville Basin.

Leaders in Park City and Summit County for months anticipated some sort of organized public outreach about the Olympic bid, and the current series of gatherings is expected to be followed by additional opportunities to provide input in some fashion.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to select the host of the Winter Olympics of 2030 sometime in 2023. Salt Lake City sees the 2030 event or the Games four years later as possibilities.

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