Park City crafts argument in favor of Bonanza Flats bond
September 13, 2016
City Hall has crafted a one-page argument supporting a $25 million municipal ballot measure meant to raise funds that could be put toward a conservation deal someday for the Bonanza Flats acreage in Wasatch County, submitting the statement in time to ensure it is published on a state election website.
Kent Jones, the Summit County clerk, said nobody submitted a statement in opposition to the ballot measure. If an opposition statement had been filed by the deadline, which was last Friday, it also would have been published.
The Park City Council in August put the bond on the November ballot. There was early support for the ballot measure, particularly within the conservation community. It remains unclear, though, whether there will be organized opposition. The absence of a statement seems to suggest it is unlikely opponents will rally in an organized fashion in the six-plus weeks prior to Election Day.
Park City leaders want to secure voter authorization for the $25 million to ensure there is funding readily available should a conservation agreement be reached for Bonanza Flats, an approximately 1,400-acre swath of land in Wasatch County south of the city limits. City Hall insists a deal has not been negotiated.
The land is owned by a firm called Redus, LLC. It is under the umbrella of Wells Fargo and Midtown Acquisitions, the lenders that brought a foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family that involved Bonanza Flats and other land in the area.
City Hall has wished for a conservation deal involving Bonanza Flats for years, putting the land in play in the 1990s as part of the negotiations that led to the Empire Pass development. The eventual Empire Pass agreement, however, envisioned a substantial project on Bonanza Flats. It has not been developed, though.
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The statement from City Hall re-emphasizes that it is not known whether the land will be made available to the municipal government in a conservation deal. It also says Bonanza Flats is a popular recreation area in the summer and the winter as well as having value for wildlife, the ecology and scenery. Protecting Bonanza Flats from development would be a "true cornerstone of open space preservation efforts," the statement says.
"Beyond impacts from potential development and the loss of conservation values, there are real consequences of development. The impacts to Park City residents from traffic alone would be significant," the statement says. "If Bonanza Flats is developed, access to the entire area would be altered and privatized and the loss of this recreational landscape would be replaced with new growth that could adversely affect the quality of life in the Park City community."
The statement also explains that City Hall would not issue bonds should an agreement not be reached for Bonanza Flats.
"Say yes to the Bonanza Flats bond and place the City in the position to acquire this open space jewel should the opportunity arise," the statement says.
City Hall has estimated someone owning a primary residence valued at $810,000 would pay $122.67 more in property taxes each year of the ballot measure passes and the bonds are issued. Someone who owns a vacation home or a commercial property valued at $801,000 would pay $223.05 more per year. The bond would be paid off over 15 years.
Park City voters have since the 1990s supported a series of ballot measures that raised funds for conservation purchases. The earlier bonds, though, were not linked to a specific property like the one on the ballot in November.