Park City housing location criticized: ‘Accidents, honking, irritation and frustration’
A group of Park City residents that appeared heavily weighted toward people who live in the southern reaches of Old Town on Monday night criticized the prospects of City Hall developing a workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in the neighborhood, raising a range of issues at an event designed to introduce the possibilities of a project.
The event was an early indication that City Hall could encounter resistance if it pursues a project at 100 Marsac Ave. Many of the attendees live or have residences in the vicinity of Marsac Avenue. People from streets like Prospect Avenue, Daly Avenue and Hillside Avenue were at the Park City Council chambers for the event. City Hall staffers and consultants retained by the municipal government spent time talking to individuals or small groups.
The presenters outlined that the underlying zoning at the location would allow a project of up to 43 units, if the places were built as workforce or otherwise restricted housing. City Hall has not crafted project details, including the number of units, but officials do not intend to pursue the full 43 units. The decision regarding unit numbers is expected to be based on the 2.1-acre size of the parcel, the location so close to tightly packed Old Town, the financials of a project and other factors.
But many in the crowd of more than 30 seemed to want City Hall to drop the idea of developing the land and instead keep it as open space. The people at the event spoke about the steep terrain of the land, the potential impacts on traffic of a development and the environmental cleanup that would be required since the location is part of Park City’s silver-mining heritage.
Ruth Gezelius, a Prospect Avenue resident, provided extensive comments as she spoke to City Hall and the consultants, telling them they have not conducted a proper analysis. Gezelius said the Marsac Avenue corridor is seen as the entryway to the vast open spaces in the vicinity of Guardsman Pass. She said the Marsac Avenue land is seen as an “open space parcel” with wildlife. A development like one that City Hall could pursue would impact the neighborhood, she said.
“Accidents, honking, irritation and frustration,” Gezelius said as she predicted the results of a project.
Gezelius also said officials are eyeing Old Town for much of the workforce or otherwise affordable housing planned by the municipal government. She inquired why other places are not under consideration as she said the housing should be stretched to other neighborhoods. It is “grossly unfair,” she said.
“It doesn’t all have to be in Old Town,” Gezelius said, drawing applause from the crowd.
Peter Marth, who lives on Hillside Avenue, also touched on that topic, saying Old Town has much of the workforce or otherwise restricted housing but little open space. Marth also spoke about the environmental concerns at 100 Marsac Ave., calling the ground a “toxic location.”
Other topics broached by the audience included the danger of runaway trucks at the location, a projection that it would be costly to develop at 100 Marsac Ave., which could drive up the prices of the units, and the ideal that leaders will eventually need to make an overarching decision about whether municipal land is developed or kept as open space.
The talks about 100 Marsac Ave. will unfold as part of City Hall’s aggressive housing efforts, which are designed to add 800 units priced at affordable or attainable levels by the end of 2026. Leaders say the housing has broad community benefits like ensuring socioeconomic diversity and reducing commuter traffic. Many critics say they support the ideals of the housing program but dispute the details of individual projects. The 800-unit goal has led City Hall staffers to consider a series of locations for projects of differing sizes.
If City Hall pursues development at 100 Marsac Ave., it seems almost certain there will be opposition in the neighborhood centered on issues similar to those that were raised at the Monday event. Talks about 100 Marsac Ave. would follow the second phase of Woodside Park, on the northern reaches of Old Town, a controversial City Hall housing project challenged by opponents.
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The planning committee and the newly formed task forces will continue to work on the master planning priorities and will present to the Board of Education at its meeting Dec. 17.