Park City leaders on Friday nixed the idea of moving a Rocky Mountain Power substation across Bonanza Drive from where it sits now, a decision that will be hailed by critics of a move but leaves questions about the future of the Bonanza Park district.
In a prepared statement released by City Hall, officials said "it has become evident that the hurdles that need to be cleared in order for the substation to be moved cannot be resolved" in time for Rocky Mountain Power to finish an upgrade by the fall of 2015.
City Hall had spent 18 months discussing the future of the substation. The lead developer in the Bonanza Park district, Mark J. Fischer, wanted to swap a piece of ground he controls on lower Iron Horse Drive, across the street from the substation, for the Munchkin Drive land where the substation sits. A substation would then have been built on the land on lower Iron Horse Drive. The Munchkin Drive parcel occupies a strategic location in the Bonanza Park district.
The prepared statement said a City Council hearing about the expansion of the substation at the Munchkin Drive site will be held on Thursday. The elected officials intend to provide directions, the prepared statement said. They will consider a substation at a height of 60 feet and one at a height of 30 feet. The statement said in either case Rocky Mountain Power is expected to propose 100-foot-tall power poles.
The idea to relocate the substation across Bonanza Drive had been sharply criticized by people who live or own properties on or close to lower Iron Horse Drive. They worried that a relocated substation would bring down property values and be unsightly.
The decision on Friday was made shortly after a daylong open house on Tuesday at the Marsac Building that drew both supporters and opponents of a substation move. Inside the Marsac Building on Tuesday, people perused exhibits with information about the idea. Outside the building, protesters demonstrated against a move.
Approximately 60 people attended the open house. They spent time looking at the maps and other informational displays. City Hall staffers and project representatives were in the City Council chambers answering questions. Mayor Dana Williams, City Councilors and candidates in the City Hall election joined interested Parkites at the open house.
A demonstration, meanwhile, was held outside the building, along the side of Marsac Avenue. There were seven people in the group at just after 5 p.m. They held signs saying "Stop Rocky Mountain Power" and indicating they do not want the substation moved. Some of the signs were posted in the ground nearby. At one point, two police officers were positioned nearby to ensure the demonstration was peaceful.
The Tuesday open house was a key event as tension continued to build in the dispute. Fischer, who attended, argued in an interview that the redevelopment of Bonanza Park would have been more ambitious if the substation were moved, freeing up a centrally located parcel in the district.
Rocky Mountain Power says it needs to upgrade its capabilities in Park City to meet growing demand.