Park City agrees to put more monies toward Snow Ranch deal
The Park City Council on Thursday agreed to contribute another $550,000 to the Utah Open Lands drive to protect a tract of land in Thaynes Canyon from development, significantly increasing the City Hall stake in the efforts.
Park City voters on Election Day in November approved funding for the deal as part of the $48 million ballot measure that raised most of the money needed to acquire Treasure in an unrelated conservation deal. City Hall had envisioned putting up to $3 million toward the Utah Open Lands deal for the 19-acre Snow Ranch Pasture off Thaynes Canyon Drive and Three Kings Drive close to the Park City Golf Club. The land is under the ownership of two branches of the Armstrong family.
Utah Open Lands was left to raise the other $3 million needed to complete the deal. The organization was unable to bring in the $3 million difference, leading to the request for additional assistance from the municipal government. The deadline to raise the funds is Sunday, June 30.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council indicated they supported shifting the additional monies toward Snow Ranch Pasture. The mayor said the agreement supports the core values of the community while Steve Joyce, a member of the City Council, told the crowd the additional City Hall monies remain within the number that was on the ballot.
City Hall said this week it borrowed $44 million for the acquisition of Treasure, rather than the projected $45 million, to complete that deal, leaving funds available to put the additional monies toward Snow Ranch Pasture. City Hall explained the interest rates, bond premium and principal performed well during the sale of the bonds, leading to the availability of the additional funds.
The crowd at the meeting on Thursday was supportive of the additional funds for Snow Ranch Pasture, testifying that the protection of the land provides numerous benefits like combating climate change and continues Park City’s long-running conservation efforts.
Wendy Fisher, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, said another $935,856 was needed prior to the City Council’s decision to contribute the $550,000. Fisher said there had been a “huge outpouring of support” for the campaign.
In one notable moment on Thursday, Mike Sweeney, whose family made up one-half of the Treasure partnership that sold the hillside acreage to City Hall, said he would contribute $50,000. The $50,000 follows an earlier $100,000 contribution toward Snow Ranch Pasture, he said in an interview.
Utah Open Lands also said this week a member of the Armstrong family, Kerry Armstrong, has indicated she will agree to protect an adjacent property — the location of a red barn — from development if the Snow Ranch Pasture agreement is finalized.
Utah Open Lands has said Snow Ranch Pasture is important for its scenic views and wildlife habitat. The organization has said up to 48 houses are possible if the acreage is not protected. Utah Open Lands, though, encountered difficulties raising its $3 million share of the overall cost as it mounted a broad fundraising campaign. Fisher has said some potential contributors were under the inaccurate impression that the full funding was raised in the ballot measure.
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.