In 2009, during a City Hall election season far tenser than this one, the idea for a hillside development overlooking Old Town became one of the critical topics.
The mayoral challenger, Brad Olch, especially took on the issue of the Treasure development idea. Olch, the predecessor to Mayor Dana Williams, his Election Day opponent, challenged Williams on his handling of Treasure, saying the incumbent had not been assertive in attempting to negotiate a deal to resolve what was, at the time, a stalemate between City Hall and the Treasure developer.
With this year's election season entering its final weeks, though, the Treasure development idea has received little publicity even though the issue remains unresolved four years after the Williams-Olch match-up, which the incumbent won by a wide margin. In what is a surprise in this year's election, Treasure has not been seen as major an issue as it had been in previous election cycles.
The Treasure land is situated on a hillside off streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. A partnership owns the acreage, but the project remains most associated with the Sweeney family. The family in the 1980s won an overall approval for development on the Treasure land and nearby parcels. It must win another major approval from City Hall before Treasure could be developed, though.
Long-running talks between the Treasure developer and the Park City Planning Commission in the last decade yielded little progress as the panel and people who live on nearby streets raised numerous questions covering topics like the size of the buildings and the traffic the project could attract. Treasure, as proposed to the Planning Commission, envisioned upward of 1 million square feet of development. It would sit on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort close to the route of the Town Lift.
More recently, negotiating teams for City Hall and the Treasure partnership have spent more than a year in closed-door sessions attempting to craft a deal that might call for a smaller project at the Treasure site itself and a shifting of the other development rights to another location seen as better positioned for growth.
The sides have not released information about the talks in recent months, but there has appeared to be some urgency to the negotiations as the end of the year approaches. Williams, who is retiring from the mayor's office in early January after 12 years, has seemed to want a resolution or at least significant progress toward one by the time his term ends.
But the project was expected to be an issue of consequence during this year's City Hall election nonetheless. Regardless of the negotiations, Treasure remains one of City Hall's most difficult development quandaries. Even if an agreement is reached by the end of the year, the Election Day winners would likely be tasked with overseeing its implementation. The terms start in early January and last four years.
Instead, though, candidates have addressed a range of questions about other topics. The PCMR lease dispute has been briefly touched on, even though City Hall does not have a known role in the case, and there has been talk about the prospects of the redevelopment of Bonanza Park.
The two mayoral candidates -- Park City Councilman Andy Beerman and Planning Commissioner Jack Thomas -- on Tuesday evening were asked about Treasure during a candidate forum.
Beerman said officials hope an agreement is reached without a lawsuit being filed. He said it does not appear the land will be kept undeveloped, but the project could perhaps be designed so that it is "scaled into the hillside." Thomas acknowledged that the Treasure partnership has development rights, but he said he was not sure how the matter would be resolved.
Thomas has been especially careful when speaking about Treasure since the Planning Commission has held talks about the project. Planning Commissioners frequently refuse to discuss in any depth individual development proposals the panel is considering unless they are participating in a formal Planning Commission meeting or similar event.