Park City agrees to $5.75 million land deal with Osguthorpes |

Park City agrees to $5.75 million land deal with Osguthorpes

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall and the Osguthorpe family have negotiated an agreement to preserve a tract of farmland off the S.R. 248 entryway, a deal that ensures that the acreage will continue to be farmed instead of being developed someday.

The Park City Council on Thursday night approved the deal. The price tag is $5.75 million. City Hall will fund $4.75 million of the total and Summit Land Conservancy, a conservation group, has pledged to raise the other $1 million over the next two years.

The Osguthorpes will put what is known as a conservation easement on the 121 acres. Under a conservation easement, the family will continue to own the land, but development will no longer be allowed. The arrangement provides inheritance-tax benefits for the family.

It is the first time City Hall has spent money on a conservation easement, Mayor Dana Williams said. Other land groups rely on them in their work, however. City Hall’s conservation work had traditionally relied on outright land purchases.

The Osguthorpes grow alfalfa and oats on the land. Steve Osguthorpe, who represents his family, said the farming will continue. Williams said the acreage is the last family farm in the immediate Park City area. The family has held the land since 1951, Osguthorpe said. The land is appraised at $9.4 million, according to a report submitted to Williams and the City Council before the Thursday vote.

"We want to keep farming. Agriculture is our livelihood, life and our lifestyle," Osguthorpe said in an interview. "Development isn’t our game. Agriculture is."

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As part of the deal, City Hall also will pay an additional $375,000 to buy out the Osguthorpes’ rights to 150 water hookups on the property. The hookups could have served 150 houses had the property been developed.

The land is just outside the Park City limits. It is on the north side of S.R. 248 east of Park Meadows. City Hall for years has been acquiring a patchwork of land on the S.R. 248 entryway in an effort to block development.

The property borders land City Hall has already acquired in conservation purchases. Had the land been annexed into Park City, the Osguthorpes likely could have built 120 houses, the mayor said. Osguthorpe said numerous developers over the years have approached the family with ideas to build on the land.

"Putting that kind of traffic on 248 would be huge. It’d be a huge impact," Williams said, adding, "We could have had a lot of development there."

Williams, meanwhile, said the land is next to acreage controlled by the Department of Defense. The military has long wanted to build a hotel in the Park City area, and Williams said there is a chance the military brass could have someday partnered with the Osguthorpes to develop the Defense Department land and the family’s land together.

City Hall will fund the deal using the $1.75 million remaining in voter-authorized open space bonds, fees collected on real estate sales in Empire Pass and other fees brought in to fund open space purchases. Park City’s open space committee supported the agreement.

The deal is the second major conservation agreement between City Hall and the Osguthorpe family, following 20 years after the family sold the picturesque McPolin Farm to the municipal government. The farm, along the S.R. 224 entryway, remains the signature acquisition in City Hall’s highly regarded conservation program.