Deal would preserve 183 acres | ParkRecord.com

Deal would preserve 183 acres

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Park City and Summit County officials intend to buy a mountainside parcel along the S.R. 224 entryway to preserve as open space, a landmark agreement that marks the first time the two governments have cooperated on a conservation purchase.

The two will split the $3.9 million price tag for the 183 acres, and each plans to finance the purchase with voter-authorized conservation monies. The Clissold family holds the land.

The land climbs Quarry Mountain from S.R. 224 and spreads just over the ridge from the state highway. The large Quarry Mountain radio antennae visible from numerous vantages sit amid the open space, and the parcel is near the site where Temple Har Shalom is building a synagogue.

The land is mainly across S.R. 224 from the McPolin Farm, the swath of open space that remains City Hall’s signature conservation purchase.

The Park City Council is scheduled to vote on the deal on Thursday. It is unclear when the Summit County Commissioners will formally endorse the purchase. The County Commission agenda for a Thursday meeting does not list the agreement.

Leaders with both governments are happy. They say it is best to set aside the land from development given its high-profile location off S.R. 224.

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"It’s another one of the puzzle pieces we’ve assembled," says Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer, a longtime supporter of local conservation efforts who once served on City Hall’s open-space committee.

Richer, who expects the County Commission to unanimously approve the deal, says many people likely believe the land already is protected.

Parkites and people in the Snyderville Basin widely support the open space programs of the two governments, with Park City’s being established years ago and the Basin’s taking on significance recently.

The purchase will continue what has been a longstanding strategy of City Hall to protect entryway land. Officials since the 1980s have especially said protecting land from development along S.R. 224 is a smart strategy in an effort to separate Park City from the sprawling development of the Snyderville Basin. Doing so, the supporters say, gives Parkites and tourists a sense of arriving in a rural mountain setting once they reach the McPolin Farm.

But in recent years there have been few chances to buy land along S.R. 224, and City Hall has largely focused on the S.R. 248 entryway instead. That stretch has been under greater development pressure than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. Land values have climbed on both entryways, but the market along S.R. 224 is much busier than it is off S.R. 248. City Hall has secured huge tracts off S.R. 248 as open space as well.

The 183 acres are along a stretch of open space that includes the McPolin Farm and the Richards Ranch, a large swath off S.R. 224 closer to Park City.

Myles Rademan, a key figure in Park City’s open-space program, says City Hall and Summit County worked on the deal for seven or eight months, and open-space panels in the city and the county unanimously recommended the purchase. The land sits outside the Park City limits. Under Summit County’s development rules, there was the potential of someone building about five houses on the land, according to Rademan.

If the land remained in private hands, there were worries about development ruining the view, Park City Mayor Dana Williams says. The land is steep, but property owners elsewhere in the area, spurred by Park City’s hot housing market, often design hillside projects.

"Based on what I’ve seen in Old Town over the last 10 years, I don’t take it (as) sacred steep slopes won’t be built on," Williams says.