Letters to the Editor, November 21-24, 2009
November 21, 2009
It is amazing how memories are selective and how details of events past are forgotten when it is convenient to do so.
There are a couple of concepts described in the recent editorial titled "We’re from the government and we’re here to help you" that should be explored a little further.
First of all, let’s discuss the concept of "secret negotiations." Negotiations for real estate purchases by any government agency, including Park City, are almost exclusively confidential and in closed session as expressly authorized under state law. This is done purposefully, so that the other party does not have advanced knowledge of the City’s position or negotiating limits, and third-party speculators cannot insert themselves into a transaction prior to final agreements and artificially increase prices. The actual approval, rejection or modification of any purchase is done in open session, with notice to the public, as it was with the most recent approval of the Boyer land purchase. If extensive time were allowed between the announcement of a deal and the approval, it would possibly have the same negative effect on the transaction that public negotiations would impose.
As recently as this past September, we announced and approved the purchase of the Armstrong (136-acre) property for $5 million within the same time frame. There was no editorial criticism, and it was before the elections.
Just a year ago this month, the City and the County teamed up and authorized the purchase of two parcels for $25 million (approx. 700 acres at Kimball Junction and Round Valley) and another parcel for $4.5 million dollars (the 107-acre "triangle parcel" east of Hwy 40). The announcement and approval of these purchases were also within the same time frame as the recent Boyer parcel. This deal was also negotiated through the Boyer Company, and the purchase by the City and County was from the Boyer Company. We don’t remember any editorial criticism of this transaction either, and it was just after the County elections.
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The concept that we are buying into an existing development project should also be explored. Pre-annexation negotiations for this property have been ongoing for the past 5 years. During that time the City conceptually approved an annexation agreement defining the density to be allowed on the property within the allowable density described by the Community Transition zone. This is the same zone that was placed on the IHC and City recreation parcels to the north. There is no secret. Council direction to further explore an actual partnership was stated in staff reports and open meetings in June and again with the Talisker/UPCM Affordable Housing Plan amendment in October. The next steps will be for the City to annex the property in open session, and then a Master Plan Development (MPD) proposal will need to be submitted to the Planning Commission for public hearings and approval.
This approval is a big deal. Rather than sit back and let a second entry corridor happen to us, we are putting our money where our mouths are. We will have the ability to provide an integrated affordable housing project within a market unit project. We can coordinate an environmentally sensitive and economically viable project that the entire City can look to with a pride of accomplishment and ownership.
Finally, regarding the ‘voters’ remorse" conclusion. We would like to remind everyone that the Mayor does not vote. He only gets officially involved in this process after the Council has taken a vote, and signatures are required. The City Council voted unanimously to approve this purchase. There is no remorse about this decision by any member of the Council, but should any voter feel remorseful, they should know that the two councilpersons that have been involved in all negotiations regarding this property from the beginning are Jim Hier and Roger Harlan. They are both strong proponents of the deal, and are excited by the potential that this acquisition brings to the City, but they will not be on the Council after the first of the year. No voter remorse needed.
However, we have remorse that the editorial staff a staff that admitted it did not fully understand the platforms of various County Council candidates until after it made its endorsements, and a staff that felt it was appropriate to withhold endorsements altogether in the municipal election does not attend the very Council meetings it purports to judge. Citizens could look to Wednesday’s editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune for a more informed opinion.
Park City Council and mayor
Alex Butwinski (member elect)
Letter writers have short memories
(This is in response to two letters in the Nov. 18-20 Park Record, "The case against aerial profiteers" and "Why destroy scenic open space?")
The ski area at what is now The Canyons has been used for helicopter access off and on for some thirty years. So if the Hurwitzes want to follow precedent, they should be enthusiastic about helicopter skiing based at The Canyons.
Mr. Hughes’ "beautiful meadow of open space" was occupied by the remains of Park City’s sewerage plant until recently. So, yes, the City is following his guideline of using "footprints that have already been developed" for affordable housing
The little people should be grateful
I did not attend last Thursday’s City Council meeting even though I am opposed to the councils latest ($11 million) foray into the real estate development business at Quinn’s Junction. It would have been an exercise in futility! Last Wednesday’s edition of The Park Record made it perfectly clear that the most compelling arguments against this latest no-notice folly would go unheeded; the fix was in. This is the way this council operates. If there was any question about this, Councilman Joe Kernan cleared it up. According to The Park Record (Nov. 18-20, 2009) Councilman Kernan "called the agreement a ‘very complicated deal, very complicated,’ Regular Parkites, he said, do not understand the ‘reasons that was an important purchase.’" Well, of course we are not capable of understanding the importance of this deal; that’s why the council decided it was not necessary to explain it to us. The little people always have trouble with the big-picture stuff; thankfully we have the City Council to guide us through these "vision things." So now the city runs a health club, a skating rink, a golf course (none of which break even) and it has embarked on an "affordable housing" project behind the new cop shop. I guess it was to be expected that becoming a real estate developer is now on the table; I can hardly wait to see what’s next.
Thomas L. Hurd
Giving thanks for those who give
As I was driving to the ribbon cutting of the People’s Health Clinic today (Nov. 18), I was struck by how much "development" there has been in the scant 10 years in which I have lived here. We have: a new synagogue; a Basin Rec Center; a hospital; a world class training facility for elite athletes; a bowling alley; an ice rink; playing fields; an expanded high school; more trails; a skateboard park. I’ve left things off but you get my point. These amenities are only available to all of us because there are those among of us who give selflessly of their resources and their time and vote to have their taxes increased.
Utah may drive me nuts but Park City rarely does. I’m proud of the people who live here. We’re cool.