"We're not all the way there yet," resident Richard Pimentel told the Summit County Council and a roomful of residents during Wednesday's County Council citizen comment period. "Thank you to all the creative financing you [Summit County] put together to come up with all but $860,000 to buy this land. But the public has to come up with some money as well, and we only have three short weeks to do it in. If we can come up with $250,000 in time, the Sorensens are very generously offering to reduce the price by $610,000. That's not a bad deal. We're close."
A fundraiser held at New Park Resort on Dec. 13 raised $13,500. Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher announced at the Newpark Resort fundraiser that she has also been able to secure a $62,500 grant through the LeRay McAllister fund.
On Dec. 5, Utah Open Lands announced a deal that involved the collaboration of themselves, the Summit County Council, the Park City Council, Snyderville Basin Recreation District and Basin Open Space Advisory Committee to purchase the 781 acres of Toll Canyon open space for $6.1 million from the Sorensen family.
The entities were able to come up with all but $860,000, which the Sorensens offered to lower by $610,000 if the public would donate $250,000 by the end of the year.
Not only has the public shown support through their checkbooks, but many appeared during Wednesday's Summit County Council, including about 10 who spoke in favor of the purchase.
Nancy Bradish, a long-time Summit Park resident, admitted she hated speaking in public, but felt passionate about preserving Toll Canyon.
"I've already seen, in the time I've lived in Summit Park, the diminishing of wildlife. They used to be right out my back door, but they're gone. And I would hate to see anything further diminish the future and wellbeing of wildlife in our area."
Wildlife Protection Society Treasurer/Secretary Tim Fehr added that Toll Canyon is an important migration route and wildlife habitat, and should be preserved.
Citizens for the Alignment of Growth and the Environment Treasurer/Secretary Craig Eroh told the County Council he respects and applauds the efforts to purchase Toll Canyon, and reminded them how important open space is. "I think a lot of people in the community really value this land," he said.
Ed Rutan added the area's rural mountain environment is an important part of residents' quality of life. "Toll Canyon is an incredible resource for all of us," he said. "It's used by many people in different ways. From my point of view, it would be a tragedy if this asset is not preserved, not just for our generation, not just for our community, but for all generations and the larger community along the Wasatch Front."
The Summit County Council will consider the Toll Canyon proposal on Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, located at 60 North Main Street in Coalville.
The Park City Council will vote on its role in the Toll Canyon agreement during their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 20 at the Marsac Building, located at 445 Marsac Avenue.