Guest Editorial, September 26, 2009 |

Guest Editorial, September 26, 2009

Brad Olch, Park City

Many of us in Park City are deeply concerned about the Treasure Hill project just take a look at the large number of people attending planning commission meetings lately. Like so many Parkites, I sincerely believe that Treasure Hill, as it is proposed today, is the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

For the record, I did not vote for the Treasure Hill project in its current state or anything like it. In fact, today’s project is significantly larger than the project I voted to approve in 1986.

Here’s a little history: In 1986 I was the chairman of the Planning Commission. We had two dire choices for this prominent hillside. One was to allow single-family development of the entire hillside, which would have encompassed all of the land under the Town Lift including the town runs, and the Sweeney Switchbacks. Road construction for this type of development would have allowed the mining company (which owns land adjacent to the Treasure parcel and Payday Run) to expand this development onto their parcel, and up the ridgeline to the top of Payday Chairlift.

The second option was to compress all of the density into Creole Gulch, the current site for the Treasure Hill project. The night we voted on Treasure Hill, six commissioners were in attendance. The vote split: three and three. I voted to approve Treasure Hill, which forwarded the motion to the City Council, which approved the Planning Commission’s decision.

It’s important to note that what we approved in 1986 was smaller in scale than the Treasure before the Planning Commission today. When I cast my vote in favor of that Treasure Hill, I prioritized two factors. First, I wanted to be certain that the approved project would be the most challenging and the most expensive proposal to build possibly ensuring that we might never have anything built on that hillside. To me, it was too accessible for the developer to build a road above the Sweeney Switchbacks to create a subdivision. And, selling single-family lots was too easy. On the other hand, in 1986, building in Treasure Hill was nearly impossible.

The second factor I considered in my decision was the public value of the hillside. I believed that the long-term value of moving all of the density to an extremely difficult-to-build location was worth the 150-plus acres of open space it would preserve. That’s 150-plus acres of open space which the community has enjoyed for nearly a quarter century for hiking and biking and skiing.

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All said and twenty-three years later, the Treasure Hill project is a long way from being approved or developed and public the public’s input is critically important. If elected, I will work extensively with the Planning Commission, City Council, and the general public to ensure we explore every possible avenue in an effort to eliminate this potential large-scale development above our beloved Historic Main Street. In the past, I combined your thoughts and input with my skills to craft acceptable solutions to seemingly difficult problems. Many citizens are unaware that the hillsides above Park Meadows and Prospector would be far more densely developed today, the buildings on lower Main Street a lot taller, and the entry to Park City populated with homes and condos, if I had not provided the leadership to effectively deal with these issues.