The key figure in the Bonanza Park district and Rocky Mountain Power are considering a land swap that would allow the developer to press ahead with his plans to remake the district and provide the power company the ground for an upgrade in its capabilities.
Mark J. Fischer, the Bonanza Park developer, said under the deal he would trade land at 1555 lower Iron Horse Drive to the power company. In exchange, Fischer would receive the land where Rocky Mountain Power's substation now sits, off Munchkin Drive, he said.
The substation land is located in a crucial spot to Fischer. He owns a patchwork of properties in the vicinity and is attempting to develop what would be a new district of housing and commercial properties. He said the land where the substation is located would be turned into a community park under the development plans.
Should a deal not be struck, the substation would be surrounded by the Bonanza Park redevelopment.
"Bonanza Park would be much smaller in scope if the substation doesn't move," Fischer said during a recent open house centered on the future of the Rocky Mountain Power facility. "It would be right in the middle of a new city park."
Fischer said the choice made about the substation will be a "once-in-a-hundred year decision." A substation would be expected to remain there for 100 years, he said.
The discussions come as the power company is preparing to increase its Park City capabilities. Rocky Mountain Power says the substation off Munchkin Drive is nearing capacity. It wants an upgrade to be completed by the fall of 2015.
The open house drew approximately 50 people to The Yard on Kearns Boulevard to talk to Fischer, City Hall officials and others with ties to the discussions. The crowd took in maps and computer-generated images as they spoke to the officials. The event, though, did not address the height of the power poles that might be built as part of the upgrade. The new poles could be approximately 100 feet tall, significantly taller than the current ones of 60 to 65 feet in height. The taller power poles are expected to be scrutinized later.
There have been long-running talks between the parties involved, and Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council are tentatively scheduled to hold a round of discussions on Nov. 15.
Thomas Eddington, the planning director at City Hall, agreed with the developer that it would be difficult to design a project with the substation located where it is now. He said Bonanza Park would be a "very challenging redevelopment project" with the substation remaining as is.
"It would become a very awkward area," Eddington said, adding, "We would have to build around it."
Many of the people who attended the open house seemed supportive of the idea of moving the substation and then redeveloping Bonanza Park. There have been various concepts for a redo of Bonanza Park since prior to the recession. Fischer has since refined some of them and wants to bring the proposals to City Hall.
Graig Griffin, who lives in Old Town, said he backs the concept of moving the substation to make room for the Bonanza Park development, calling the idea "well though out." He said Bonanza Park will provide a boost to the local economy. Griffin also said the land where the substation could be positioned under the land swap would set it against a hillside rather than keeping it in an open area.
Candy Dwyer, who lives in Park Meadows, predicted there would be benefits like increased tax revenues if Bonanza Park is redeveloped like Fischer envisions. She wants the substation moved to allow the development.
"Who wants a beautiful redevelopment area with a power station right in the middle of it," Dwyer said. "It's not going to be as beneficial for the city if the power station is in the middle."