How would you carve up Treasure?
City Hall and the Sweeney family on Tuesday night unveiled five options under consideration as the two sides continue their high-stakes talks about some sort of conservation agreement for all or part of the family’s disputed Treasure land, presenting the options to a diverse crowd of Parkites and people who live outside the city.
The open house, held in the lobby of the Eccles Center, drew approximately 80 people, a larger crowd than those at many of the Park City Planning Commission meetings about Treasure. The crowd, which included Mayor Dana Williams and at least four members of the Park City Council, chatted with two of the three Sweeney brothers leading the Treasure efforts, the family’s architect and City Hall staffers involved in the discussions.
The Sweeneys provided numerous illustrations, including long-forgotten images of iterations of Treasure dating back years, and put on display a detailed model of the development proposal. The people at the meeting live in disparate neighborhoods, and it was not clear how interested many of them were in Treasure prior to the open house. Some of the others live on streets like Empire Avenue, close to the project site, and have closely followed the Treasure talks since the middle of the last decade.
The options have been crafted over closed-door meetings between negotiating teams representing City Hall and the Sweeneys about the prospects of a conservation agreement. Critics of the project have long wanted City Hall to strike a deal to protect the land from development.
The options represent a sliding scale that reduces the amount of development that would be allowed on the Treasure land, situated on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort close to the route of the Town Lift. The Treasure land occupies a highly visible hillside overlooking Old Town.
"Everything is still on the table," said City Councilwoman Liza Simpson, one of City Hall’s negotiators, adding that the open house was meant to "start people’s brains" thinking about the scenarios.
Highlights of the options, according to a City Hall spreadsheet, include:
The approximate square footages include both residential and commercial space. The numbers, though, do not include so-called back-of-house space needed for support services for the development nor do they include a conference center the Sweeneys desire. The idea for a conference center has been panned by project opponents, but the Sweeneys see one as drawing people to Treasure and Main Street.
Two other options — moving forward with the current Treasure application and removing the possibility of any development at the site — were also included.
City Hall will need to negotiate a financial agreement with the Sweeneys under any of the options besides the one that has the family continue with the current application, and a deal would be expected to reach into at least the eight digits. City Hall would likely put a ballot measure to voters to raise the money for a Treasure conservation deal. A price tag has not been set.
"There’s always a compromise. Life is full of compromises. Who knows where it’s all going to lead," Mike Sweeney, one of the family’s negotiators, said in an interview during the open house, adding that he wants a "win-win situation" between his family and City Hall.
Sweeney said the people he spoke to during the open house broached topics that have been discussed previously with city officials.
The family in the 1980s won an overall approval for Treasure and smaller developments nearby, but the talks between the Sweeneys and the city’s Planning Commission have been entangled in recent years about the current Treasure proposal. The discussions have been suspended pending the conservation talks.
Members of the panel and people who live in the surrounding neighborhood have misgivings about the blueprints, saying, among other criticisms, nearby streets cannot handle the increased traffic Treasure is expected to bring and the Treasure buildings will loom over the houses in the neighborhood.
Rory Murphy, a former member of the Planning Commission who was critical of the project during his term, attended the open house, saying that he was pleased that City Hall and the Sweeneys agreed to discuss the prospects of a conservation deal.
"I can see a lot of work’s been done. I cannot say with any certainty that I see a good compromise," Murphy said, indicating that the price tag that will be attached to the options later will be critical. "The central issue is obviously valuation."
Meanwhile, an Empire Avenue resident who has been a longtime critic of the Treasure plans said during the open house she prefers there be no development at the site. Kyra Parkhurst said she wants the sides to pursue an agreement that keeps the Treasure land undeveloped. A conservation group should be involved, she said, and the Sweeneys could incorporate the land into their estate planning.
Parkhurst, meanwhile, said she especially remains concerned about the conference center that the Sweeneys want incorporated into the plans and said Treasure-related traffic issues remain unresolved.
"We’re still back to square one," Parkhurst said.
Another open house is scheduled on Tuesday in the Eccles Center lobby from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
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