Eight out of every 10 agree: Treasure blueprints are undesirable | ParkRecord.com

Eight out of every 10 agree: Treasure blueprints are undesirable

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

People at the recent Treasure open houses panned the Sweeney family’s blueprints for the project, the results of a survey show, another bit of evidence of the heels-dug-in nature of what is the most disputed development proposal in Park City since the discussions that led to Empire Pass in the 1990s.

The survey, which was nonscientific and counted responses from 166 people, found that 83.1 percent of the people who responded see the Sweeney’s current proposal as the least preferred of a series of six options presented at the recent open houses. Meanwhile, 75.8 percent said their most preferred option is to keep the entire acreage as undeveloped. Options that involved various levels of development alongside open space generally did not ignite the same passion as the two extreme alternates.

The Sweeneys and Park City officials have been engaged in Treasure talks for years, with most of the discussions involving the Park City Planning Commission. The two sides deadlocked, with the panel and people on streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue holding deep concerns about issues like traffic and the size of the proposed Treasure buildings.

Negotiating teams from the family and City Hall are attempting to strike some sort of conservation deal for the Treasure land, situated on a high-profile hillside overlooking Old Town on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. The negotiations have been closely guarded.

Although the survey was nonscientific, and approximately two-thirds of the responses came from people who live in either Old Town or Park Meadows, it provides one of the most intriguing looks at the opinions of Parkites to date.

Some of the other survey results include:

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Nearly 70 percent of the people who answered the question said they are either very familiar or familiar with the history of Treasure, which dates to a 1986 overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels.

More than a third of the people — 35.2 percent — who answered the question said improvements that would be made to Park City Mountain Resort as part of the Treasure development are unimportant. Meanwhile, 15.2 percent of the people who responded said doing so is extremely important.

The people who took the survey overwhelmingly indicated they are willing to vote in favor of a bond measure to fund a City Hall-Sweeney family conservation agreement that would reduce the number of units in Treasure. The results show 67.6 of the people who responded said they would definitely or most likely support a tax increase related to a Treasure deal.

City Hall does not have funding set aside to finance a Treasure deal, and it has long been anticipated a ballot measure would be put to voters if an agreement is reached. Some expect that the dollar amount attached to a ballot measure will be higher than any of City Hall’s previous conservation bonds, which have topped out at $20 million.

Park City Councilwoman Liza Simpson, one of the City Hall negotiators, said in an interview she wants to continue to learn about the Parkites’ opinions, saying some people labeled the current proposal the least preferred based on the design instead of their opposition to the development.

"There’s more work to do in figuring out how people feel," Simpson said.

Simpson also said more research is needed into Parkites’ desire for a ballot measure, indicating "no density is not going to come for free."

Mike Sweeney, one of the family’s negotiators, said the survey results were expected, maintaining that critics of the project flocked to the recent open houses in large numbers.

"I’m not surprised with the results given the people who attended the open house," Sweeney said, contending that the people "had a tendency not to be in support of the project."

He said the people at the open houses were "not a representative sample of the community." Others like Main Street businesspeople and the real estate industry support Treasure, Sweeney said.