May 18, 2021
May 2021 Message from Mayor Sondak

Dear Alta Community Members,

I am writing about three important issues. I want to reflect briefly on the pandemic. I want you to know where we stand in terms of parking. And I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts about the community center ideas that we presented a couple of weeks ago.

SARS-CoV-2. I am very gratified with how well our community has weathered the pandemic. This time last year was fraught with uncertainty and we didn’t even know for sure if the ski area and our lodges would be able to open at all. I was very engaged with a team from MIT and Harvard Public Health to study our industry and our indoor and outdoor spaces. I thank Alta Ski Lifts and our lodges that participated in those efforts and for making needed adjustments to how they operated this year. Happily, we did much better than we might have both economically and in terms of public health. And we had some pretty good skiing, too! The good relationships the staff and I have developed with Salt Lake County proved to be very valuable in terms of receiving a fair distribution of Cares Act and other funding to help make up revenue losses. The bottom line is our businesses and town budget fared well enough that we can look forward to flourishing next season.

Parking. As you no doubt have heard, Alta Ski Lifts is going to implement a reserved parking program next ski season. You can see details here, if you aren’t already familiar with their plans:

ASL’s plan affects their parking lots and other areas that they control through their special use permit from the United States Forest Service. While reserved parking is certainly a change from previous arrangements in Alta, I am hopeful that this plan will encourage more carpooling and use of transit and will decrease congestion in Alta and on SR 210.

The Town of Alta contains about 200 parking places that are not on ASL’s special use permitted area. Marshal Morey, the town’s staff, and I are working hard to develop our options for those spaces. ASL has shared with us data that they gathered from businesses and homeowners in Alta, and we will soon be launching a public outreach process of our own to hear from you directly about your needs, desires, and concerns. Please participate in our efforts to engage you because we need the best information we can get. Because there are relatively few spaces that are not in ASL’s reservation system, our current thinking is that we will need to have a parking permitting system to accommodate our residents, employees, businesses, and guests effectively.

Community Center. Many people tuned in live to the roll out of the community center feasibility study conducted by Ennead Architects. If you didn’t participate, or if you want to review the presentation and the formal report, you can find them here: I have received a number of enthusiastic emails and phone calls about the design that Ennead developed. For example, just yesterday a homeowner wrote that he thought that Ennead’s recommendation was “a great concept and the solutions were really creative and effective.”

The next step in realizing a community center is to look into how to move forward and how we would raise the money to do so. One community member told me that they would contribute $1 million toward the community center and I want to make sure that we have a coherent fundraising strategy to build on this incredibly generous offer. To do so, it is important to have an architectural scale model and to engage professional advice about financial development. I plan to engage providers of these services over the next few months. Let me point out that no general fund money (i.e. money from property or sales taxes) has been spent on this project. All of the funding so far, and for the next steps that I have included in our current budgets, has come from soon to expire restricted impact fees that the town collected over the last few years from new construction and growth.

Ennead’s process included a local advisory team that identified the need and purpose of a community center. And while Ennead engaged almost 100 additional community members, it would be very helpful to know your reactions to the presentation and your views about moving forward. Please email John Guldner ( or me ( in the next few days and let us know your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you!


Harris Sondak