City Hall wants sliver of ground off Bonanza Drive | ParkRecord.com

City Hall wants sliver of ground off Bonanza Drive

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall is interested in acquiring a sliver of privately held land off Bonanza Drive needed to design a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel in a fashion that officials prefer over an alternative that they would have to fall back to without the strategically placed ground.

Matt Cassel, the Park City engineer and the staffer who is overseeing the designs, acknowledged that City Hall recently made an overture to Wintzer-Wolfe Properties regarding the land. But a deal has not been struck and Mary Wintzer, the general partner in the firm, recently spoke to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council about the situation.

She said nobody from City Hall spoke to her about the land before she appeared in front of the elected officials. Cassel has since contacted her, however, and he said he had spoken to her husband, Charlie Wintzer, beforehand. Wintzer said she became worried after seeing surveyors planting stakes related to the work.

Cassel said in an interview if City Hall is unable to acquire the land, the tunnel could be built anyway. A pathway at the street level at the Bonanza Drive-Iron Horse Drive intersection that is desired would not be put in if the land remains with Wintzer-Wolfe, though. He said negotiations between City Hall and Wintzer-Wolfe have not commenced. He expects them to start by early May.

It is unclear how long the two sides would need to finalize a deal or break off the talks. Wintzer said she is unsure how large a piece of land is in play between the two sides.

According to Cassel, City Hall controls a pathway that splits the Winzter-Wolfe land in two. Some of the privately held land along the pathway is of interest to officials. Cassel said City Hall is unsure how much the Wintzer-Wolfe land is worth.

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The land is situated just east of a Wintzer-Wolfe building at 1255 Iron Horse Drive, between the building and the pathway. Wintzer said City Hall long ago was allowed to build the pathway on her side’s land.

"We want to make it so it’s a win-win for them and us," the city engineer said.

City Hall is preparing to reconstruct Bonanza Drive and install a water line underneath the road. It will be among the most significant roadwork projects done by City Hall in years.

Officials want to better manage turns along the route and make the road easier on pedestrians and bicyclists. Bonanza Drive is a heavily used road that links Kearns Boulevard with Deer Valley Drive. People driving to Old Town, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort use the road frequently.

The tunnel is a long-sought upgrade that supporters say will make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Crossing Bonanza Drive close to the Rail Trail often is a challenge, even with a crosswalk and blinking lights. People must cross the road to follow a path that stretches between the Rail Trail and the Main Street area.

Cassel said the work on Bonanza Drive, beginning with the water line, could start just after Independence Day. The tunnel would not be built until 2010, though.

Negotiations between government officials and private-sector landowners are sometimes difficult when a government wants the land for roadwork or other purposes seen as benefiting the public. Local officials typically do not want to come across as heavy-handed or have to condemn a piece of land.

"We deserve more respect and consideration on this issue than we have been accorded. To reach the place of survey stakes in our property without us knowing exactly what is being planned is not right," Wintzer said in prepared remarks provided to The Park Record.

City Hall is currently leasing the Wintzer-Wolfe building at 1255 Iron Horse Drive as temporary office space while the Marsac Building is closed for renovation.

Wintzer said her firm is considering ideas for the building and the land that is in question. She said the land could someday be turned into patio seating if a cafe was put into part of the building, which will be remodeled once the city offices return to the Marsac Building. Creating a labyrinth on the land, an attraction for people visiting the Iron Horse district, is also a possibility later, she said.

"I need all of the property to create what I want to put there," she said, adding, "We cannot, in this economy, give up property we need."