‘EPA-free Zone’ plans party | ParkRecord.com

‘EPA-free Zone’ plans party

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Neighbors in Prospector later in July will hold their annual lobster bake, a yearly event that few Parkites who don’t live in the neighborhood ever pay attention to.

But this year’s event will likely have more meaning than the get-togethers in the past. The neighbors will chow down on lobsters but will also celebrate the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to finish its long-running probe into Prospector.

The Park City Council on Thursday granted the neighbors a permit to hold the event, being called the ‘Lobstah Fest/Prospector EPA Zone Free’ party. It is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on July 22 at 2693 Annie Oakley Drive, a vacant lot.

"Just call it our fierce independence," says Joe Maslowski, the Lobstah Fest’s event manager, who lives on Wyatt Earp Way in Prospector.

The EPA investigation into the long-term effects of Park City’s mining legacy on Prospector stretched since the 1980s and many people saw the probe as a stigma on the neighborhood.

The EPA in February endorsed City Hall’s environmental programs in the neighborhood, finding that the local government’s management was appropriate. In a process known as ‘archiving,’ the EPA essentially finished its work, enabling City Hall to oversee the environmental issues in the neighborhood.

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In a report to the City Council before Thursday’s vote, Max Paap, the City Hall staffer who handles some special events, indicates that the neighbors plan to cook lobsters and other food, play music and dance.

The city projects that 250 people will attend the event, which is scheduled the same day as the E100 bicycle race, a Utah Symphony performance and the Triple Crown softball tournament.

The elected officials joked about whether the EPA was invited before they unanimously voted to approve the event.

"I do believe a party is in order. I think it’s appropriate. This has been a long time coming," says Ron Ivie, City Hall chief building official and a pivotal figure in the Park City-EPA relationship.

In a flier announcing the event, the organizers say it is "celebrating our new status as an ‘EPA-free Zone.’" The Motherlode Canyon Band, fronted by Mayor Dana Williams, who is a Prospector resident, is scheduled to perform.

Prospector, like other spots in Park City, suffered from environmental contamination from the mining heyday. But more than the other places in Park City, including Old Town, Prospector has been seen as problematic, with some claiming that the EPA’s presence has hurt real-estate prices in the neighborhood.

In the 1980s, Prospector was placed in a pre-Superfund database for EPA’s notorious list of cleanup sites. The neighborhood avoided the Superfund designation and, late in the 1980s, the city adopted its so-called soils ordinance, requiring property owners to cover their yards with six inches of topsoil if a high level of lead was discovered in a yard. The process is known as ‘capping.’

Early in 2006, when the EPA announced that it intended to archive the neighborhood, Ivie said 26 properties remained to be capped and a little less than 300 had been completed. He estimates now that there are less than the 26 that still require the topsoil.

"I’m most proud of the people," Ivie says, talking about the property owners who capped their yards, saying that the local program is the only one of its kind he is aware of in the U.S.

Sally Elliott, a Summit County Commissioner and a former City Councilor who lives in Prospector, says the mood is "very positive" in the neighborhood, lots of friendships have been made and that property values are increasing.

"It’s kind of the end of more than 20 years of discussions with the EPA," Elliott says.

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