Bonanza Flats will only belong to us if everyone chips in | ParkRecord.com

Bonanza Flats will only belong to us if everyone chips in

The Park Record editorial, Jan. 7-10, 2017

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With support from voters, the Park City Council took a bold step Thursday, approved an option agreement of $38 million to purchase 1,350 acres of undeveloped alpine land above the city. If all goes according to plan, the deal will preserve a treasured playground and vital watershed for generations to come.

In November, Park City voters, by a 70/30 percent margin, gave the city council the green light to issue a $25 million bond to be used toward the purchase of Bonanza Flats. On Wednesday, Park City announced the owners were willing to sell the property to the city for $38 million. The council, the next day, quickly and unanimously approved the agreement.

Many saw the possibility of purchasing the stunning, developable parcel as a long shot, a distant one at that. But thanks to some hard work behind the scenes, Parkites are now in a position to protect a significant stretch of wildflower-studded meadows and majestic peaks at the intersection of Summit, Wasatch and Salt Lake Counties.

Among those who deserve credit for negotiating the conservation agreement are: Park City Mayor Jack Thomas and Deputy City Attorney Tom Daley, who persisted in the negotiations even though the chances of success seemed slim.

Credit is also due to the landowner, a firm called Redus, LLC, that is under the Wells Fargo umbrella. The bank acquired the parcel as part of a foreclosure case and it was widely assumed that several high-end developers would outbid the city. But according to a prepared statement released by City Hall, Executive Vice President Daniel Bartok said the bank was "pleased to support the preservation of the Bonanza Flats property" and, as he put it, "an agreement with the city that will benefit the entire community."

In fact, preservation of Bonanza Flats will be good for communities beyond Park City, including those in Wasatch and Salt Lake counties whose residents are deeply attached to the slopes and trails that interlace the area.

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But before the celebration can truly begin, there is still $13 million to raise. Local conservation organizations have put out a call for contributions to help preserve Bonanza Flats. Utah Open Lands, Save Our Canyons and Summit Land Conservancy have all jumped onboard.

While $13 million may seem daunting, that number may be whittled down if other governments join in the effort – and they should. There is hope, for example, that Summit and Wasatch counties will chip in, too, reducing the burden on individual donors.

In November, 3,955 Parkites voted in favor of preserving Bonanza Flats. It is time to turn those check marks into donation checks. But they should not be the only ones – everyone who cares about protecting our beautiful and fragile mountain landscape should participate.

To donate go to: UtahOpenLands.org or SaveOurCanyons.org or WeSaveLand.org and look for the Save Bonanza Flats button.

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