Park City in 2022 is not the same place it was 20 years ago, when the Olympics first came to town. Utah is bidding to host the 2030 or 2034 Winter Games, and a series of meetings is planned to collect community input.
Article by Michelle Deininger for KPCW (September 12, 2022)
Park City’s Mountain Mediation Center has hosted community conversations on a range of topics that could be considered sensitive. The non-profit is now tackling the sometimes thorny issue of how locals feel about hosting another Olympic Games.
The center will facilitate six conversations on the subject, starting Tuesday September 13. All will be bilingual, one will be virtual, and the in-person talks will be spread around the county, in Kamas, Coalville, and Park City.
Gretchen Lee, executive director of the center, said city and county officials asked for help gathering community concerns and overall sentiment.
“We’re neutral and we facilitate the conversations we are not pro Olympics we’re not anti Olympics we want to get people out to talk about the Olympics so they can express their hopes, desires and also their concerns,” she said.
Park City Mayor Nann Worel and Summit County Council member Malena Stevens sit on the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games. Worel said they’re eager for community input, but won’t attend the talks in person.
“Sometimes we might skew some of the opinions in the room,” Worel said. “Or people might say something because they think that’s what we want to hear. So we’re not going to be there. We want these to be neutral conversations.”
Worel and Stevens made a video that will be shown before each conversation begins.
People who take part in the conversations will receive a fact sheet with a basic overview of Utah’s bid. During the talks, Mountain Mediation facilitators will take general notes. But the conversations won’t be recorded and no one will be identified.
Stevens said she’s hoping for takeaways that tell government officials what people are most concerned about with respect to another Olympics, whether it be traffic or population growth or anything else.
“I’m most interested in looking at what are the concerns? And specifically, what are people concerned mostly about the impacts of traffic? Is it impacts of having additional people in town during that time? Is there a perception that you know, people are going to move and there’s going to be an increase in just people afterwards? What are the primary concerns?”
Knowing what worries people have will help officials make plans to mitigate impacts should Utah’s bid be successful. Five conversations are scheduled for September; the final one will be held October 6th.
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