Park City continues talks about complexities of Bonanza Flat
March 16, 2018
Park City leaders continue to consider the future of the municipally owned Bonanza Flat acreage, a process that illustrates the complexities involved in City Hall's most notable conservation acquisition.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday held a discussion about Bonanza Flat and received another round of testimony from a disparate group of people with differing interests.
The elected officials were not scheduled to make critical decisions about Bonanza Flat at the meeting on Thursday, but the discussion and the input likely acted as previews for more detailed talks later.
City Hall is crafting long-range plans for Bonanza Flat that will govern what sorts of activities will be allowed or prohibited on the land. The land was long owned by United Park City Mines with few regulations. City Hall's ownership will require a management plan, though.
The elected officials will need to delicately craft the plans while considering the various interests. Recreation lovers want to ensure Bonanza Flat remains a favored destination in the summer and the winter. But there is also concern from people who have properties in the vicinity of Bonanza Flat and want to ensure they retain year-round access, as has traditionally been the case. The discussions about access, generally via vehicles or snowmobiles, are expected to be especially difficult.
The mayor and City Council received a little less than 50 minutes of testimony on Thursday from a spectrum of speakers. Some of the comments centered on the access while other speakers addressed recreation topics.
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Bridgette Meinhold, who lives in the Brighton Estates neighborhood close to Bonanza Flat, touched on access as she asked the elected officials to be compassionate as they discuss the land. She requested snowmobile corridors.
"It's a matter of safety," she said.
Another speaker, Russ Mangone of the Utah Snowmobile Association, noted the economic benefits of snowmobiling to Summit County and the state. He told the elected officials snowmobiling does not impact wildlife or vegetation in a typical winter.
Carl Fisher, the executive director of Save Our Canyons, a group heavily involved in issues that impact the Wasatch Mountains, said there is concern about intensifying the way Bonanza Flat is used, noting worries about the prospects of creating a groomed cross-country skiing track. Allowing more sorts of uses in Bonanza Flat could impact wildlife, he said.
Other speakers broached topics like the possibility of creating a permit system for guided excursions into Bonanza Flat, a separate idea for a permit system to regulate vehicle and snowmobile access to residences, a desire for some sort of restrictions on dogs in Bonanza Flat and a disappointment in the way people behave currently on the land.
The elected officials offered limited comments on Thursday, but the discussions later will likely be extensive as the plans for Bonanza Flat are finalized. City Councilor Becca Gerber said access to and from the residences in Brighton Estates must be protected, perhaps through a designated corridor.
City Hall acquired the 1,350-acre Bonanza Flat in a $38 million deal in mid-2017 and has spent the intervening months studying the land and considering management plans.