Gillmor closing locks in land preservation on east side of U.S. 40
Though it might not be visible for a few years, and even then perhaps not readily apparent, steps taken this summer by the Summit County Council will define how more than 600 acres on the east side of U.S. 40 will look for years to come.
Earlier this summer, the county sold 112 acres of land in the area to the Snyderville Basin Recreation District to be used as open space. And on Tuesday, the county closed on another 461 acres, with 338 acres to be preserved as open space and used for recreation.
The closure marked the end of a nearly five-year effort to acquire the land from the Gillmor family.
Summit County Chief Civil Attorney Dave Thomas said the land deals on the east side of U.S. 40 are complicated because they fall in an Environmental Protection Agency superfund site. He said the county began talking with the EPA about the land four or so years ago, but it wasn’t until late August that the agency signed off on the deal.
Basin Rec now controls about 450 acres on which it plans to build a 3- to 5- mile trail network and a new trailhead and eventually connect the network to the Rail Trail and Silver Creek Village development.
There’s about 1 1/2 miles of open space between the Park City Business Park to the south near S.R. 248 and the development near the Interstate 80 interchange. This deal ensures much of that land will continue to be preserved.
Brian Hanton, program coordinator for Basin Rec, said the new lands play an important role in the district’s future plans, and that new trails could be cut as soon as 2021.
“It not only serves a good rec purpose, but also preserves that corridor so we don’t have development all up and down (U.S.) 40,” Hanton said. “It’s a nice thing our community — the community wants to preserve that open space and open feel instead of letting development come in.”
The county is eyeing about 125 acres of the Gillmor parcel for future development, purchasing the land near Home Depot and northwest of the bulk of open space in this deal. There have been many ideas about what could go there, including affordable housing, a public works facility, a senior center, a recycling site or a bus barn.
Thomas said County Manager Tom Fisher will evaluate the highest-priority needs for the county to determine what will go there.
The parties agreed to the purchase price of $10.4 million in February 2018. It includes more than $7.5 million in recreation district funds, $2.8 million from other county funds and $1.5 million to be paid to federal and state environmental protection agencies to clean up the property.
The rec district funds come from the $25 million open space bond passed in 2014. The district received $15 million for recreation and open space uses, Hanton said, of which about $3 million remains.
Thomas said the arrangement leaves the county and recreation district completely protected from future cleanup costs, and also from potential litigation.
The site is contaminated from historical mining operations, which can be costly to remediate. The county performed extra testing on the 125 acres set aside for development, Thomas said, and the EPA removed the superfund designation from that land.
Hanton said he predicts the trailhead will go on the Triangle parcel near the existing wildlife tunnel under U.S. 40. The relatively flat land will yield less challenging terrain that could give novice mountain bikers a chance to hone their skills, Hanton said, and also serve as a way to get to Silver Creek Village and Round Valley. He said the trailhead will likely take the pressure off other local trailheads that are becoming increasingly crowded.
The deal is done, Thomas said, and requires no further action from the county.
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