Park City continues publicity efforts centered on Treasure deal
Two of Park City’s elected officials on Tuesday fielded questions about City Hall’s planned acquisition of the Treasure land, making statements similar to those made recently, as leaders continue to disseminate information about the deal.
Mayor Andy Beerman and Park City Councilor Becca Gerber appeared at an event known as Après with Council, held at Twisted Fern restaurant, as part of the municipal government’s overall outreach efforts. They covered a range of issues, but Treasure appeared to be of special interest to the small crowd.
Neither Beerman nor Gerber offered significant new information about the proposal to acquire Treasure in a conservation deal. They instead recapped some of the history of Treasure and the negotiations that led to the $64 million agreement. Most of the cost of the acquisition would be funded through a ballot measure that is expected to be pegged in the low $50 millions.
The Treasure land is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels and later sold a stake to a firm called Park City II, LLC.
The partnership proposed a project involving approximately 1 million square feet of development, drawing opposition as critics seized on issues like traffic and the size of the buildings. Limited progress was made during years of discussions with the Park City Planning Commission, eventually leading to the deal calling for City Hall to acquire the land should the ballot measure pass.
Beerman briefly covered the decades of history of the project and argued Treasure, if developed, would be out of scale with Old Town. He mentioned blasting would be required during the excavation work. Beerman noted the rounds of negotiations that led to the agreement to acquire Treasure in a full buyout after City Hall had reached a deal for 50 percent of the development rights. He acknowledged the deal for 50 percent was unpopular.
The mayor also spoke about the intention of the elected officials to set aside the land as open space if the acreage is acquired. He addressed an earlier concept of City Hall obtaining the land if the ballot measure passes and then recouping some of the costs by transferring a portion of the development rights elsewhere by reaching an agreement with another landowner. There was resistance to the concept as people who support the acquisition worried Parkites would be less inclined to vote in favor of the ballot measure if the development rights were to be transferred to another location.
“That’s just moving the problem,” Beerman said about the earlier concept.
The mayor and Gerber also spoke about City Hall’s efforts to reduce the dollar figure of a ballot measure, which have stretched through the budget season in the spring and early summer. Leaders have opted to delay certain capital projects, perhaps by five to seven years, to free up funds for a Treasure deal. The projects include a plaza in the Main Street core, roadwork in Old Town and Main Street sidewalk improvements.
Gerber said leaders considered ballot measures priced at $50 million and $55 million, saying there is little benefit if City Hall opted for additional cuts to reduce the figure. There was a “diminishing return,” she said. The mayor contended the delay in the projects shows that the Treasure deal is a priority for City Hall. He said cutting back on the street budget could lead to more potholes while targeting the recreation budget could result in cutbacks in the hours of facilities like the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center and the skate park at City Park.
She also briefly explained the property taxes paid to City Hall will fall over time as earlier bonds approved by voters are retired over the course of the payback of the Treasure one. The retirement of the earlier bonds appears to be one of the key arguments of the supporters of the Treasure ballot measure.
Another point mentioned on Tuesday was made by a former member of the Park City Board of Education as he spoke about taxes. Moe Hickey told the room the School District portion of property taxes will rise, explaining that an increase in taxes paid to the School District could become an issue in the Treasure debate.
“The opposition’s going to use that,” Hickey said.
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A group of Park City residents on Monday night criticized the prospects of City Hall developing a workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town. The people at a Marsac Building event raised a range of issues.