Back in September, Vail Resorts announced two new lifts at Park City Mountain as part of their 2022 Epic Lift Upgrade. This summer, a new six-pack chairlift would have replaced the Eagle and Eaglet, and the Silverlode Express would have been replaced by an eight-pack chairlift. These plans have been delayed to next summer though thanks to an appeal by multiple Park City residents. By a vote of 3-1, the Park City Planning Commission granted an appeal to locals who appealed their prior decision of approving the new lifts. With this successful appeal, Park City Mountain confirmed that they will not have the time to complete the projects in time for the 2022-23 season, meaning that the new lifts will likely be put in in the summer of 2023(if it can get the approval). The decision can be challenged by Vail Resorts in district court, or they can reapply for approval with the Park City Planning Commission. Both options are timely endeavors though, and supply chain issues are likely to keep Park City from completing the projects during this summer and fall.
Commissioner Laura Suesser explained her reasoning for voting to grant the appeal:
“I agree with granting the appeal because the did not meet criteria number one in the development agreement as the application was not consistent with the mountain upgrade plan because the lift upgrade locations were not within the lift upgrade alignments identified in the MUP , and the newly proposed lift upgrades did not go to the meadow, and the new proposal removed two lifts and left 3 Kings, rather than replacing 3 Kings as contemplated in the MUP”
While the decision is shocking in terms of how it went down, it’s a testament to how bad Vail Resort’s relationship with the town of Park City has become. This past season, the ski resort dealt with overwhelming traffic, delayed trail openings, and some of the most popular lifts among locals, like the Silver Star lift, were rarely open. In response, Vail Resorts will introduce paid parking at the Park City Mountain Village base area for the 2022-23 season, but the planning commission felt that it wasn’t a sufficient response to the rise in crowds the resort has seen thanks to the Epic Pass. Their concerns with the plan were due to the insufficient parking plans, along with the fear that the new lifts would overwhelm Park City’s comfortable carrying capacity.
Vice President and COO of Park City Mountain Deirdra Walsh released the following statement to TownLift:
“We are not only disappointed with the Planning Commission’s decision to grant the appeal of our previously approved lift projects; we are fundamentally concerned with, and confused by, the City blocking this significant investment in the guest experience at Park City Mountain.
As the country’s largest resort, Park City Mountain has 41 lifts – our goal is to upgrade two of them, with the purpose of reducing wait times in two popular spots and helping guests move up and around the mountain more easily.
Those opposed to these important enhancements to the guest experience have created a false narrative that the replacement of aged infrastructure with modernized lifts will draw crowds.
Chairlift tourism does not exist – skiers and riders just want to spend more time on Park City Mountain’s vast terrain and less time in line.
Investment in infrastructure is a critical part of the guest experience at Park City Mountain – and we are deeply disappointed that the City is now blocking that investment at the last minute.
We have made every effort in good faith to collaborate with the City Planning Staff and the community, engaging with the city in November 2021 – making this one of the longest lift upgrade approvals in recent memory.
This is especially disappointing given these lift upgrades are in accordance with a long-approved mountain upgrade plan and were recently evaluated by the Planning Director and her staff, who determined that our application met all the criteria of administrative approval.
In addition, the permit we were issued had 19 detailed conditions of approval to address staff requirements and community feedback.
We are considering our options and next steps based on today’s disappointing decision – but one thing is clear – we will not be able to move forward with these two lift upgrades for the 22/23 winter season. And that should be a disappointing outcome for everyone who loves to ski and ride at Park City Mountain.”Image Credits: Park City Mountain