PARK CITY, Utah — The steep stairs that run up the slopes of Old Town may be getting an expansion to 9th Street.
“The stairs connecting residential streets in Old Town are unique to Park City,” writes Park City Economic Development Senior Project Manager Matt Twombly in a staff report.
“In the late 1800’s, a group from Michigan (commonly referred to as “The Michigan Bunch”) created and recorded the original plats of Park City. The mapmaker in Michigan was given sketches where buildings and houses were located along the North/South roadways but didn’t realize the cross-streets ran up the steep hillsides.
“As the City was developed, wooden stairs were built to provide better connectivity and access between the steep right-of-ways. Over a century, stairs were repaired, rebuilt, and expanded throughout much of Old Town to improve walkability and neighborhood connectivity.”
To expand this pedestrian access, the city now wants to construct stairs along 9th Street up to Woodside Ave.
The city has received mixed reviews. There have been two meetings held with residents on the project, both in-person and virtually on Zoom.
At their meeting on Thursday, the Park City Council expressed that the project would improve pedestrian safety — specifically in light of concerns about Crescent Tram along 8th Street, especially during the winter.
Resident of the area, Jody Whitesides, agreed. “In the wintertime especially, it’s a ridiculous amount of foot traffic and car traffic that is trying to go both ways on that street,” he said, referring to Crescent.
A couple that lives on Norfolk Ave. spoke against the project, saying that the area is “one of the few remaining green spaces where children and grandchildren play and wildlife can go.”
A different resident, who lives on the corner of 10th St and Woodside Ave, said the project is a “no brainer.”
“The number of people and the safety issue of the people using the current walkability areas — it’s dangerous,” she said.
“They opened up 10th Street to downhill traffic this winter and it was really quite the show for me to stand there and wash dishes and watch nobody stop going downhill and then of course nobody stops going up Woodside Avenue either because if they stopped they couldn’t start again.”
The project was presented Thursday as two phases, however, councilman Max Doilney proposed exploring the idea of completing it all in one go.
Councilwoman Becca Gerber, who used to live on Empire Ave, said “I would often end up walking up and down Crescent, trying to get to Main Street to go out, and it was pretty scary some nights walking back and forth and all these cars come flying around those corners and you’re like — yeah, there’s nowhere to go. So I think that it makes sense.”