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City Hall plans housing campaign

City Hall may purchase the Park Avenue parcel where a fire station now sits. The government then could possibly build an affordable-housing project on the land. Grayson West/Park Record
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City Hall plans an aggressive affordable-housing campaign in 2006, with the possibility that the government could launch its own projects and negotiate partnerships with big employers.

In a recent government workshop, Park City officials spent significant time on the subject, said Mayor Dana Williams, a longtime affordable-housing supporter. The mayor and the Park City Council use the annual workshop to prioritize issues for the year.

Williams said in an interview that, in addition to affordable housing, the officials discussed making decisions based on issues like the environment and the economy during the workshop, held on Jan. 17 at Hotel Park City. Nobody from the public attended, Williams said.

Williams said City Hall is considering at least three potential sites for affordable-housing projects. They are: the site of the fire station at 1353 Park Ave., Snow Creek and at the site where a sewer plant once stood off Holiday Ranch Loop Road.

He said it is "very possible" that affordable-housing projects could be built on each of the sites. Housing has been contemplated at Snow Creek and the Holiday Ranch Loop Road parcel before but there has been little discussion about the fire station location. Williams said City Hall could purchase the fire station parcel within a month but details of that deal have not been made public.

Park City officials have long seen themselves as among the chief affordable-housing supporters in the city and the local government has contributed to several projects. It seems, though, that in the aftermath of the recent workshop, City Hall may expand its role.

Supporters of the affordable-housing program argue that a community is better off when people with varying incomes live locally. That, they say, brings needed diversity to Park City.

Several high-profile affordable-housing developments in Park City include Aspen Villas and Holiday Village. Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, a nonprofit that works to provide options for people otherwise priced out of Park City’s real-estate market, is currently building an affordable-housing project on Deer Valley Drive.

Still, affordable-housing developments frequently encounter opposition from neighbors, who are sometimes worried about the potential of declining real-estate values and traffic increases.

Neighbors to the Holiday Ranch Loop Road site have previously been outraged about the possibility of an affordable-housing project at the location. In 2003, when the government was considering whether to pursue a project at the site, officials faced resistance from neighbors, including from someone living nearby who threatened to fight City Hall.

Williams said the government wants to decide what type of housing units it wants, such as those that are for sale or for rent. There have also been discussions about an assisted-living center but it is unclear if such a facility would be proposed for one of three sites.

"Now we start taking the ideas and information we have and seeing how we can fit that onto specific properties in the city," he said, adding that the projects he envisions in already developed areas are less than 20 units each.

Meanwhile, the mayor wants to launch discussions with big employers but he acknowledges that the government cannot require that they build more housing unless part of a development deal.

"Sometimes it’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about corporate responsibility," Williams said, adding, "It’s not just the local government’s responsibility to house everyone who comes here."

Williams said he expects some resistance to the affordable-housing projects.

"I would imagine, as with any project in town, there will be some consternation from the people who live closest to it," Williams said.

City Councilman Roger Harlan supports expanded affordable-housing efforts, saying that Park City needs "richness" in its diversity.

"There’s a vitality in a town when you have people who live on a broad economic scale," Harlan said, adding that such housing would make Park City more "real."


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