Neighbors miss meeting
Anne Lewis Garda was the lone upper Lowell Avenue resident to testify at the Park City Planning Commission’s public hearing on the Treasure Hill project Wednesday night.
"I was surprised my neighbors didn’t show up," she said after the meeting. "I thought there was a great deal of interest [in the project]."
In the past, Planning Commission public hearings for the Sweeney family’s Treasure Hill proposal have packed rooms and extended public hearings. In anticipation of lengthy public input, Planning Commission chair Jim Barth reminded the room that they should keep comments to a three-minute limit.
Garda, the only person to approach commissioners during the hearing, said she is worried about the potential construction traffic while Treasure Hill is built.
"I’m concerned about Empire [Avenue] and about the construction period," she explained. "How many delivery trucks and cement mixers will a seven-story building with a 400-car garage need?"
The Sweeneys own 120 acres west of Old Town, on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort. Plans for Treasure Hill include 282 residential units and 19,000 square feet of commercial space on 11.5 acres. Much of the family’s land at the site will remain designated open space.
Wednesday’s meeting featured a presentation by City Hall-hired Fehrs and Peers transportation consultant Ryan Hales to review the potential adequate improvements that would help alleviate the estimated six percent increase of traffic on Empire and Lowell avenues.
In the study, the engineers suggested, among other improvements, constructing sidewalks, bulb-outs and additional paved "off-street" parking spaces along Empire Avenue and additional stairs between streets.
Hales explained that "adequate" means the improvement has met the professional standard within the traffic-engineering industry. A 25-foot-wide street, he said, would be adequate for two travel lanes, since the Utah Department of Transportation considers 10 feet wide enough for one lane, according to Hales.
Hales added that the Sweeneys’ proposed on-site storage of construction materials would eliminate 77,000 construction truck trips for the project.
The Sweeneys have also offered to build a people mover to give visitors the option to bypass streets altogether.
Commissioner Charlie Wintzer appeared to be unconvinced by the mitigations, and asked for a better visual representation.
"I’m not sure all the improvements can be done. I don’t see the physical space," he explained. "I’d like to see some kind of plan."
City Engineer Eric DeHaan assured Wintzer that the measures offered by the traffic consultants would work, but that it was a matter of what residents would want. Sidewalks, for instance, would mean that residents would have more plowing to do in the winter months, he said.
"Our experience has been that residents don’t necessarily want sidewalks. [Often] what people realize is, they really want their parking spaces," he said. "I have people asking me, whether or not the bulb-outs will be in front of their houses."
Kirsten Whetstone, the City Hall planner assigned to Treasure Hill, said that approximately 300 spaces in driveways and garages would not be affected by any road alterations.
While Planning Commissioner Jack Thomas emphasized that current traffic issues in Old Town should not be the sole burden of the developers, Barth said he would like the Sweeneys to do more than fund the mitigations he would like them to be a "collaborative partner."
Pat Sweeney, who is leading his family’s Treasure Hill effort for his family on the Treasure Hill project, remained mostly silent throughout the public hearing.
Later, he said that he was pleased by the meeting’s outcome.
"I thought it was a good meeting with good questions and answers a good exchange of information," he told The Park Record.
"Hopefully [the meeting] will help lead [the city] to a decision…That’s the direction it seems to be moving in."
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Buses, trains and gondolas doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but they make up the transit alternatives for the mountain transportation system the Central Wasatch Commission is trying to create, mostly in the Cottonwood canyons.