Treasure drives home traffic argument in strongly worded terms | ParkRecord.com

Treasure drives home traffic argument in strongly worded terms

Developer contends the efforts to reduce cars will be successful

By Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The Treasure opposition at a Park City Planning Commission meeting in June showed images illustrating pedestrians walking on streets narrowed by snow, an exhibit meant to bolster the oppositions argument that project-related traffic would overwhelm neighborhood streets. The Treasure side on Friday submitted a position paper that claims otherwise.

The Treasure partnership has contended in strong terms that the project blueprints adequately address traffic the development is expected to generate, a position the partnership has long held even as critics have consistently dismissed the notion that streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue can accommodate the extra cars.

The partnership on Friday submitted a 17-page document to Park City officials as the sides prepared for a Park City Planning Commission meeting about Treasure scheduled on Wednesday. Traffic has been one of the crucial issues throughout the more than 10 years of discussions about the project, which is proposed for a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.

The Treasure side argues the streets are able to accommodate the extra vehicles in combination with traffic-fighting measures planned as part of the project, such as a people mover known as a cabriolet. People who live on streets close to the Treasure acreage argue otherwise, saying the roads would be overwhelmed by traffic headed to and from the project. The Planning Commission has also expressed concerns.

The Treasure submittal says studies over the years have concluded the steps the developer intends to take to reduce traffic are workable solutions. It points to analyses, parking counts, traffic operations and other documents dating to 2004 as evidence.

"The foregoing studies all conclude that the proposed project will not adversely tax the capacity of the roads that will be used to access the project and reasonable conditions exist to mitigate any detrimental effects of traffic generated by the project," the submittal says.

The document lists traffic-fighting measures that have been completed, such as creating bicycle trails and pedestrian-bicycle paths, the construction of the Town Lift ski runs that link the Main Street core with Park City Mountain Resort and designing a project that clusters the development. It also outlines steps that are planned as part of Treasure, including housing some employees on the grounds, constructing ski runs rated for beginner and intermediate skiers and directing service vehicles to specified routes.

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"While there may be some disagreement about the particular mitigating conditions necessary, the essential and ultimate conclusion – that any effects can be reasonably mitigated – has not been seriously questioned by any traffic professional that has conducted an actual study," the submittal says. "Despite objections to certain methodologies and quibbling about particular assumptions, no traffic professional has suggested the project's traffic-related effects, including during construction, cannot be mitigated through standard, reasonable conditions."

The submittal was filed amid continuing concerns about Treasure-related traffic even as the discussions have generally moved on to other topics. Traffic has been one of the most difficult issues as the Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, has attempted to convince the Planning Commission and project critics the solutions will successfully reduce the number of vehicles. The arguments have not seemed to sway the panelists and critics.

It is an important period for the Treasure side as a momentous Planning Commission vote appears likely in coming months after discussions that have stretched since 2004 with various stops and restarts. It seems highly unlikely the Planning Commission will approve the project if the developer is unable to convince the panel to support the traffic-fighting measures. The position paper seems to be a final effort by the Treasure side to show the measures will be successful.

Pat Sweeney, who represents his family in the Treasure discussions, said in an interview on Monday there has been a "ridiculous number of meetings over the years" centered on traffic in addition to studies, updates to the studies and third-party reviews.

"We felt it was incumbent on us to make it very clear where we stand," he said about the submittal, adding, "They're public roads and we have the right to use them. That's what we're saying."

The Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. in the Park City Council chambers at the Marsac Building. A hearing is planned.

A Treasure opposition group, the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, also filed a submittal at City Hall in anticipation of the meeting on Wednesday. The four-page memo to the Planning Commission says the Treasure side has not addressed the impact project-related traffic will have on road capacity.

"The report continues to blindly focus on intersections while providing absolutely no information as to the current or projected street capacity," the memo, written by attorney Nicole Deforge, says.

The memo also criticizes a concept calling for Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue to become one-way streets in the winter as part of the Treasure traffic-fighting measures. The memo says "this is not just about mere engineering numbers – this is about quality of life for people living along and using local streets that were never intended or designed for this kind of traffic and use."

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