Park City captain sees a ‘borderline dangerous’ Bonanza Flat |

Park City captain sees a ‘borderline dangerous’ Bonanza Flat

A member of the Park City Police Department reports observing parking problems in Bonanza Flat on Pioneer Day. Phil Kirk, a captain, visited the City Hall-owned land on the holiday, saying drivers could not navigate around some of the parked vehicles.
Courtesy of Park City Police Department

Bonanza Flat is beloved by hikers and bicyclists.

But many of them drive there first.

The high-altitude land in Wasatch County owned by City Hall was a popular recreation spot long before the municipal government acquired the land in the middle of 2017. This summer, though, is the first full one under the ownership of Park City, and officials continue to monitor the land as long-range plans for the management are crafted.

City Hall’s trails and open space staffers have been heavily involved in the discussions over the last year, but others from the municipal ranks are interested in the management of Bonanza Flat as well. A representative of the Park City Police Department visited the open space on the Pioneer Day holiday on Tuesday, providing a law enforcement perspective that has not appeared to be a critical aspect of the overall discussions.

Bonanza Flat’s location in unincorporated Wasatch County, outside the Park City limits, leaves the Sheriff’s Office in that county as the agency that provides law enforcement services there. Phil Kirk, a Police Department captain, spent much of Pioneer Day on the land observing the activity. He was there on and off from between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on what will likely stand as one of the busiest days of the summer as the holiday crowds attempted to escape the heat in the lower elevations.

Kirk said he observed a “serious problem” in Bonanza Flat on the holiday with traffic and parking, two issues City Hall understands must be addressed with the land under municipal ownership.

“It’s a very popular site. … There just isn’t the parking,” he said.

Kirk said he observed people leaving vehicles in no-parking zones like narrow road shoulders. Drivers could not navigate around the parked vehicles, he said. Many of the people were headed to swim in Bloods Lake. He said it was a “logjam in there and borderline dangerous.”

The Sheriff’s Office in Wasatch County and the Unified Police Department in the Salt Lake Valley responded to complaints while Kirk was at Bonanza Flat. The acreage is in Wasatch County and is close to Salt Lake County as well, prompting the response by the Unified Police Department. Kirk said some of the vehicles were ticketed and could have been towed had the owners not arrived in time.

“There’s just no way to accommodate all the traffic there,” he said.

The observations were made as officials at the Marsac Building and with the not-for-profit Utah Open Lands are continuing to craft a document known as a conservation easement that will outline restrictions on the land as well as a management plan for Bonanza Flat. Kirk intends to forward his observations to the trails and open space staffers.

More detailed discussions about Bonanza Flat are expected to take place as the conservation easement and management plans are finalized, likely later in 2018. It is not clear what sort of influence law enforcement will have as the documents are prepared for adoption.

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