City land purchase is wise, but parking shouldn’t be top priority
May 13, 2016
The Park City Council deserves a round of applause for its bold decision to snatch up one of the last available parcels of vacant land in the heart of the city. In light of the rapid pace of development throughout the area, it is unlikely the future city councils and will ever regret the investment, despite the substantial $6 million price tag.
The decision to enter into a contract to buy the 2.29 acres along Kearns Boulevard came as a surprise to many in the community. It was revealed Monday afternoon and the vote, which was unanimous, took place Thursday. But while that timeline might seem rushed to some, if City Council members had hesitated they might have lost a linchpin parcel for future public projects including transportation and affordable housing.
Fortunately, city officials — and especially residents — have time to ponder how best to use the spot. The sale is not anticipated to close until February and even then the city can keep its options open indefinitely. Had the city done nothing, the landowner was proposing to build approximately two dozen townhomes. That project might have offered a welcome addition in terms of real estate inventory but would have placed additional stress on the city’s already overloaded roads.
Instead, the city is contemplating a large-scale transit center, parking for as many as 1,000 cars and some affordable housing.
At this early stage, the transit center and housing sound appealing, but we hope there will be a vigorous debate before turning a potentially vibrant area into a parking lot. Parking lots enable more cars to stream into town which, in turn, requires wider roads, ultimately increasing future traffic congestion.
According to the city’s overarching plan, that area of the city has been designated as a walkable district filled with locally oriented small businesses. To that end, the city’s offer to buy the parcel is an invitation for citizens to brainstorm beyond parking and to create a community designed to accommodate people rather than their cars.
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Stay tuned for future City Council discussions about the issue, your input will be vital.