Big land deal finalized at Kimball Junction
In the Park City real estate market, $10 million goes fast. The money from a bond approved by voters in 2004 to buy open space in the Snyderville Basin is gone.
The Basin Open Space Advisory Committee spent most of the money last week acquiring about 680 acres of land at Kimball Junction and Round Valley. The land was previously owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which could have used the property to build hundreds of residential units and develop thousands of square feet of commercial space.
Instead, a conservation easement on the property will help keep builders off the land, Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox said.
The land conservancy holds third-party conservation easements, she explained.
"I’m paying taxes for this open space and I want it to be there for my grandchildren. I don’t want my children or somebody else’s children to decide that Round Valley would be a great place for a convention center," Fox said.
Summit County and Park City each paid $12.5 million to protect the Kimball Junction and Round Valley property.
"The piece at Kimball Junction is prime entry corridor, because you have the Swaner nature preserve on your left and this piece on your right. It welcomes people into town," Fox said.
Meanwhile, Park City and Summit County also cooperated recently to purchase 183 acres of open space on Quarry Mountain, Fox said.
On its own the Basin Open Space Advisory Committee used proceeds from the bond in 2004 to purchase 20 acres of land east of State Road 224 near The Canyons.
The committee also partnered in 2005 with state conservation officials to purchase 46 acres adjacent to Pinebrook, Fox said.
Committee members worked with the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and Army Corps of Engineers to purchase 219 acres on a hillside north of Interstate 80 that provides trails and wildlife habit in western Summit County, said Chris Donaldson, chairman of the Basin Open Space Advisory Committee.
"We never thought it would take this long to spend the money," Donaldson said in a prepared statement. "But the committee wanted to make sure that it used the citizens’ money wisely. I think we’ve saved some important and significant properties, so the deliberate approach worked well."
But money taxpayers authorized the government to spend on open space four years ago is gone, Fox said.
"This is the best tool we have to guarantee that you could come back to Park City in 50 years and still hike a trail in Round Valley and still see the McPolin Farm looking like it looks today," Fox said.
Paying off the open-space bond from 2004 means property taxpayers will now begin paying $5.94 more per $100,000 of their assessed value, she said.
"When you start to add it all up, you can see that we’ve saved some significant properties," said Jan Wilking, a member of the Basin Open Space Advisory Committee in a prepared statement.
And maintaining open space is critical to the resort economy in Park City, Fox said.
"[Voters have] recognized how important this open space is and they have recognized that it is private land, somebody owns it and somebody has the right to develop it. The only fair thing to do is to buy that from these people," Fox said. "It as so important for our tourist economy because people are not going to come here if every square inch is covered with condominiums or concrete."
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Utah Open Lands, short approximately $1.1 million with just days left to finalize a Thaynes Canyon conservation agreement, has requested financial assistance from City Hall. The organization has asked to put additional monies toward the deal above the $3 million already pledged by Park City voters.