Basin Rec spends $4 million to secure 70 acres near Trailside for fields and trails
Trailside Park may soon get quite a bit bigger after Basin Rec purchased 68 acres of undeveloped land east of the elementary school to be used as open space.
The director of the recreation district, Brian Hanton, said planning is in the early stages, but the idea is to use about half of the land for two soccer fields and to develop trails on the hillside to the east. He also said the district may develop infrastructure like a parking lot and bathrooms.
The $4 million purchase price is about 20 percent lower than the land’s most recent assessment. Summit County granted $4 million to the Snyderville Basin Recreation District on Nov. 6 to purchase the land. The funds came out of the county’s transient room tax on overnight guests.
The new parkland would increase the number of fields available for tournaments hosted in the area, Hanton said. The plan for about 30 more parking spots and the new bathrooms would also help in hosting those events, and would prevent kids from having to cross a road to use the facilities, Hanton said.
“Ideally, I would like two fields and then parking — I’m guessing, maybe to hold 30 cars,” Hanton said. “Currently, like on weekends with bike park activity, skate park activity, a tournament — cars are lining the roads. (It would be good) for safety’s sake to get them off of that area.”
Hanton said there are already rogue trails on the land that kids use to get to school. He said those might be improved and perhaps moved onto the hillside. Initial plans call for the fields to have grass surfaces rather than synthetic turf. That coupled with decisions about where to place fencing would help the wildlife that frequents the area, Hanton said.
“Elk love our soccer fields,” he said. “In the winters, we’ll see 40 (elk bed down) on one of our soccer fields.”
The parking lot would likely go on the southwest corner of the parcel near the intersection of Trailside Drive and Silver Summit Parkway, Hanton said, adjacent to the existing lot. But he stressed the plans are still in the early stages.
Hanton said the transaction has been discussed since at least 2011. As it has come closer to fruition, Basin Rec has paid for environmental studies including a wetland assessment.
He said the park will be maintained as open space in the near term, but the improvements could be built within the next couple of years. The timing of that construction largely depends on whether a proposed 72% tax increase for the recreation district is implemented. The money would go to improving and maintaining the recreation district’s land holdings, which have increased significantly in the 15 years since the district last raised taxes.
Hanton said it would take a number of years for the funds to build up to be able to improve the new land holdings if the tax increase is not approved. The district has scheduled a public hearing on the tax increase as part of a truth in taxation process on Dec. 4. The County Council will ultimately decide whether to approve the final budget, including the tax increase.
The county’s finance officer, Matt Leavitt, said the funding source for this purchase — the transient room tax — brings in about $10 million per year, 90% of which goes to the Park City Chamber/Bureau, with the county collecting the rest, roughly $1 million. At the end of 2018, that fund balance was $4.9 million, with half a million dollars committed to Park City for the fourth installment of the Bonanza Flat grant agreement, Leavitt said.
The arrangement with the Chamber/Bureau is in flux, though, with the county’s percentage increasing until it hits 30 percent next July. Leavitt estimates the tax will bring in around $10 million again this year, but said its growth, which has hovered around 5 percent annually, has been slowing.
That means that the county’s revenues from the tax will likely triple to $3 million annually if the current collection rate stays the same. With the potential of a recession looming, though, county officials said during recent budget talks that is not a sure thing.
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The vote was split 3-1, with Rodney Robbins the lone dissenting vote. Adrianne Anson, Arlin Judd and Cody Blonquist voted for it; Tyler Rowser was absent because of a medical procedure.