Osguthorpe deal spurs land group’s biggest fund-raising effort | ParkRecord.com

Osguthorpe deal spurs land group’s biggest fund-raising effort

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Summit Land Conservancy has never undertaken a seven-figure fund-raising drive.

Now the not-for-profit group dedicated to keeping land open has signed up for just that task as its part of an agreement with City Hall and the Osguthorpe family to set aside from development a 121-acre farm off the S.R. 248 entryway.

City Hall will fund $4.75 million of the $5.75 million deal, leaving the conservancy to come up with the remaining $1 million. The agreement gives the conservancy two years to raise the money.

The $5.75 million will be in exchange for the Osguthorpe family protecting the land through what is known as a conservation easement. The land remains in the hands of the owner under the terms of a conservation easement, but the owner agrees not to develop the acreage. There are tax benefits for a landowner that agrees to a conservation easement.

Park City officials have said approximately 120 houses could have been built on the land had the acreage been annexed into Park City and then developed.

Conservation easements are commonly used tools in preserving land. The Osguthorpe agreement, though, is the first time City Hall employed the strategy. Park City leaders traditionally have negotiated outright purchases of land in preservation deals.

Recommended Stories For You

Cheryl Fox, the executive director of the conservancy, said the group plans to launch a fund-raising drive dedicated exclusively to the Osguthorpe agreement. Details have not been finalized, Fox said, adding that the campaign could begin in earnest by the middle of March. She said the conservancy wants to create a task force to consider options for the fund-raising effort.

"A million bucks is a lot of money. It’s a lot of money in this economy," Fox said, calling the Osguthorpe acreage an "important piece of property to save."

The $1 million that the conservancy agreed to raise would be the largest fund-raising effort the group has undertaken. As of now, Fox said, the most the conservancy has raised for an individual land deal is $847,000. That sum paid to place a conservation easement on 42 acres of land outside Henefer.

Fox said the fund-raising for the 42 acres of land took approximately 1 1/2 years ending in mid-2009.

"There are people who are going to be passionate about the trails and the open space," she said, adding that others will be pleased to help the efforts to check development on the land and to protect views.

Fox said the conservancy received donations to assist with the Osguthorpe deal quickly after it was made public. She said the group might arrange a fund-raiser on the land itself and plans hold events in people’s houses.

"We have to do it. We have to try," she said.

If Fox’s group is unable to raise the full $1 million, City Hall is required to pay the balance to the Osguthorpes, according to the agreement.

People who want to donate to the conservancy for the Osguthorpe fund-raising drive may contact Fox. Her number is 649-0220. Her e-mail address is cheryl@summitlandconservancy.org. For more information about the conservancy, visit its Web site, http://www.summitlandconservancy.org.