Two of the key parties in the long-running discussions about upgrading a Rocky Mountain Power substation in Park City indicated on Thursday there is a chance they could negotiate a deal that allows the upgrade to proceed in a manner that will not doom an ambitious plan to remake the Bonanza Park district.
Statements from a Rocky Mountain Power official and the figure leading the Bonanza Park efforts were unexpected. They came as the Park City Council seemed prepared to cast a critical vote Thursday night about the substation's future. The vote, though, was delayed to allow more time for the discussions. It appears the next City Council meeting about the topic will be scheduled on July 11. The lead Bonanza Park developer, Mark J. Fischer, and a Rocky Mountain Power official were at the meeting.
"I'm ready to do it," Fischer told Steve Rush, who is Rocky Mountain Power's point person, during the meeting.
The statements on Thursday were made less than a week after Park City leaders ended the discussions about a land swap that would have relocated a substation across Bonanza Drive from where it now sits. That idea would have involved a trade between Fischer and Rocky Mountain Power. People who live close to the site where the substation would have been relocated were dismayed with the idea and City Hall nixed a swap.
But on Thursday the idea of a different land swap was outlined. It appears there is initial support for the swap that is now under consideration. As a part of a deal, Fischer would trade up to three quarters of an acre of land in the parking lot behind The Yard to Rocky Mountain Power in exchange for a 1/2-acre piece of ground that is a part of the current substation site. The two sites are steps away from each other.
"It keeps the idea of Bonanza Park alive," Fischer said.
Fischer said in an interview Rocky Mountain Power would then build a substation at the new site in an east-west orientation instead of a north-south one. According to Fischer, a substation in that location would be situated away from where he envisions locating the primary commercial street in Bonanza Park.
Fischer said the Rocky Mountain Power side broached the idea last Friday. He said under the idea a substation would be built to a height of 30 feet, not nearly as tall as some had feared if the substation was redone where it now is situated.
"This proposed swap is potentially good news for the idea of Bonanza Park," Fischer said.
Rush, the Rocky Mountain Power official who attended the City Council meeting on Thursday, said afterward he is confident in the idea, mentioning it was considered a few years ago but did not advance at that time. Rush said a company engineer and the project manager indicated that it appeared the idea could be a solution.
"I think it can work," Rush said, adding, though, the negotiations need to be conducted quickly.
Park City officials, Fischer and others visited the site Thursday prior to the meeting, studying lines that were painted on the ground showing how a redone substation could be situated. Matt Cassel, the Park City engineer, and Fischer addressed the small crowd at the substation. Fischer used a map as he described the ideas with the substation towering over him in the background.
Rocky Mountain Power says it needs to upgrade its capabilities in Park City to meet a growing demand for electricity. The company wants the capabilities upgraded by the fall of 2015, adding to the urgency in the discussions in recent weeks.
The talks about the substation are unfolding as Fischer continues his efforts to remake Bonanza Park into a hip district of residences and commercial properties. The substation occupies a prime location in the district.
Fischer had wanted to swap land he owns across Bonanza Drive in exchange for the substation parcel. A substation would then have been built on the land across Bonanza Drive. People who live or have properties close to that site were livid with the idea, though, claiming a substation at the location would pull down property values and look bad.