Big Basin open-space ‘coup’
Summit County and City Hall have reached a tentative agreement to jointly purchase 680 acres of open space at Kimball Junction and in Round Valley for $25 million.
"Nothing is actually finalized at this point," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said Friday. "I am cautiously optimistic that it is in the mutual benefit of all the parties involved to continue to move forward."
Richer said the purchase could eliminate the prospect of the county seeing about 800 homes on the property.
"Many citizens have expressed a desire to protect the Kimball parcel and now we can do that and also add more open space to Round Valley," Richer said.
Much of Round Valley is open space the city purchased at the edge of Park Meadows. The new deal includes 340-acre parcels at Round Valley and Kimball Junction.
"Over the last several years we’ve heard a lot about a very, very large-scale development there," Park City Mayor Dana Williams said about the land at Kimball Junction, which is owned by a real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Their entitlements associated with density numbers were huge there."
Williams called the deal "one of the biggest coups in terms of open space preservation ever in Summit County."
"It’s another feather in the cap of the city and the county playing in the sandbox well together," Williams said. "Both the potential developer and the landowner were amenable to this offer."
The city and county will each contribute $12.5 million to fund the transaction from open-space bonds approved by voters, Williams said.
"We’re buying the Round Valley parcel outright as a city and I think about a quarter of the participation on the Kimball Junction piece," Williams said. "The potential of the development [at Kimball Junction] would certainly affect us in terms of additional traffic at Kimball Junction coming into town. The city and the county were very concerned about what the impact of upwards of 800 houses or a million square feet of commercial could be."
The parcel is nearly seven miles from the Park City limits.
"Some of our larger purchases have not been in the city limits, although they abutted the city," Williams said. "This is certainly the farthest out we’ve gone."
Williams said about 7,000 acres of open space has been preserved in western Summit County.
"The reason we do that is to preserve the area as a unique place to visit, because ultimately tourism drives our economy," Richer said.
According to Williams, "We have a resort economy that is based on people’s feeling when they come here that they get a true outdoor experience, and development certainly has the potential for affecting that."
"In the last couple of years this area is not only being judged by what it’s built, but it’s now being judged by what it didn’t build," the mayor added.
The parties hope the deal closes Dec. 15. The City Council and County Commission must approve the purchase.
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