Former Park City Councilor tapped to write in support of Treasure deal
September 7, 2018
A former member of the Park City Council who was in office during some of the discussions about the Treasure development proposal will draft a statement in support of a City Hall ballot measure that would raise most of the funds needed to acquire the Treasure land in a conservation deal.
Cindy Matsumoto on Tuesday emerged as the person who will write in favor of the $48 million ballot measure. The statement will be included in official election materials. Matsumoto served two terms as a City Councilor ending in early 2018 with her retirement after she did not seek re-election.
Matsumoto was in elected office during some of the critical stretches of the Treasure discussions. Although the Treasure development proposal was before the Park City Planning Commission rather than the City Council, the elected officials during Matsumoto's tenure were heavily involved in talks about a conservation deal of some sort. She left office before the deal to acquire the land was reached.
"I feel that open space defines our community and is very important to who we are," she said in an interview.
Matsumoto and five other people submitted their name to the Summit County Clerk's Office as candidates to draft the statement in support of the ballot measure. The other five withdrew their names, leaving Matsumoto as the remaining candidate. The people who withdrew their names are: Niels Vernegaard, Rory Murphy, Arnie Rusten, John Stafsholt and Brian Van Hecke. Vernegaard, Rusten, Stafsholt and Van Hecke are part of the core opposition to the Treasure development proposal while Murphy is a developer who served on the Planning Commission during some of the discussion about Treasure.
The ballot measure is pegged at $48 million. If voters approve the $48 million, most of the funds would be put toward a $64 million acquisition of Treasure for conservation purposes while the rest would be spent on an unrelated land deal in Thaynes Canyon known as Snow Ranch Pasture.
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Matsumoto has appeared in favor of the Snow Ranch Pasture deal as well as the Treasure acquisition. She called the two parcels "iconic spots" with vistas. Matsumoto said the consequences of developments moving forward include years of construction, increased traffic, more water use and "increased people in town."
Matsumoto hosted a Wednesday gathering of friends and neighbors at her house about the ballot measure, but she said she is not a member of an organized group in favor of the deal for Treasure.
Van Hecke, a leader in the opposition to the Treasure development proposal, praised the selection of Matsumoto to draft the statement in support of the ballot measure. He said the former City Councilor is "well respected in this community." Matsumoto "knows our community, knows our town," Van Hecke said, adding that he wants her to "reiterate how important this is."
"I hope she's able to provide facts on why voting for this would benefit us all here in Park City," he said.
Van Hecke is a key figure in a group known as the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, which was formed in opposition to the Treasure development proposal. Van Hecke and others in the group argue the Treasure development would overwhelm Old Town with large buildings and traffic increases on streets like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. The group pressed for a conservation deal for years before the $64 million agreement was reached.
"The bond is important and it's important for the people of Park City to support it . . . ," Van Hecke said, adding the alternatives are severe for the community. "This is our one and only chance. There will be no more chances."
The Treasure development proposal involves approximately 1 million square feet on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. A partnership involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC spent years in talks with the Planning Commission about the project with little progress as concerns about the traffic, square footage and other issues continued. It appeared the Planning Commission was readying to cast a 'Nay' vote when the $64 million agreement was reached.