New leaders saddled with unfinished business
December 31, 2013
Like Congress, the Park City’s government ran into some obstacles this year. Though officials had hoped to resolve several development negotiations by the end of the year, it did not happen. As a result, a new mix of Park City Council members and Planning Commissioners, along with a new mayor, will have to take up the charge. Perhaps their fresh outlook will make a difference.
Foremost among the issues still on the council agenda is Treasure, a substantial development project with pre-existing approvals on slope west of Main Street. Mayor Dana Williams and the council had hoped to broker a deal with the developer to transfer some of the project’s potential density to other parts of town. We would encourage the new council and planning commissioners not to give up on that complex concept. Working through the details required to make density transfer a win for both the developer and landowners will require bureaucratic stamina and ingenuity.
To their credit both the developer and the city have waded through years of shifting economic sands and changes in public sentiment, but they haven’t abandoned the negotiating table. If the new players stick to the game plan, future generations will benefit from both the economic and the aesthetic benefits of a well planned project.
Bonanza Park is another long-awaited project that needs to move from the drawing table to shovels in the ground. The ambitious mixed-use development slated for the patchwork properties south of Kearns Boulevard and west of Bonanza Drive seemed to be moving forward early in the year but suffered a setback when Rocky Mountain Power threw a curveball. The power company announced that the existing substation would have to be enlarged and giant power poles would have to be installed. It turned out to be a false alarm that wasted a lot of time and money, alienated nearby neighborhoods and scuttled the possibility of taking a more comprehensive look at the project.
Representatives for the developer had buoyed public interest in Bonanza Park at a well attended open house in 2012 where community members suggested some imaginative uses for the site including senior housing, neighborhood commercial establishments, an art center, a convention center and a university extension. It was a heady session that should have been followed by a development application, blueprints and survey stakes. But the hodgepodge of parking lots, old industrial spaces and small businesses held in precarious limbo are still there.
It is time to get over the Rocky Mountain Power fiasco and proceed. We would like to see the new council and the property owners jumpstart Bonanza Park right now while the economy is on the upswing.
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There were other goals that seemed to fall by the wayside, too. Senior housing, for instance, is a popular campaign platform that never seems to come to fruition while new trails, public art and public works buildings get plenty of attention.
But 2014 is a new year and there will be plenty of new potholes and political challenges for the freshmen officials to tackle.