Park City protects Library Field, ‘our Central Park’
Effort started after some saw green space as a place for housing
Park City leaders on Thursday preserved the Library Field, opting to set aside the popular green space from development after a two-year push by people in the neighborhood and others to ensure nothing could be built there.
And the supporters of the Library Field have booked time on Sunday to celebrate.
The Park City Council voted unanimously to protect the Library Field and tap the not-for-profit Summit Land Conservancy to hold and enforce an instrument known as a preservation easement that outlines the restrictions on the land. The elected officials received applause after the vote. The City Council is expected to consider a contract with Summit Land Conservancy in November. City Hall has drafted Summit Land Conservancy to hold and enforce easements on other municipal lands like the open space in Round Valley.
The efforts to preserve the Library Field were not controversial, and it never seemed like the elected officials would reject protections for the land. City Hall officials, Summit Land Conservancy and the neighborhood supporters, though, needed to engage in discussions about the details of the preservation easement, which covers approximately 1.8 acres. The protected land does not include a sloped area and the library patio at the southern end of the field.
“It’s pure. It’s unadulterated. It doesn’t have anything on it except grass,” said Ed Parigian, who lives close to the Library Field and was a pivotal figure in the efforts, adding, “It’s basically our Central Park.”
The preservation easement prohibits permanent structures on the land, such as fences and sidewalks, according to a City Hall report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday. Temporary structures like those used during special events are allowed. It also creates a procedure for the municipal government to consider what are described as “minor park amenities,” such as benches. The easement, meanwhile, prohibits City Hall from putting more trees on the land than are there now. Trees and other landscaping currently on the land could be replaced, though.
The elected officials did not discuss the protections in any depth on Thursday, but they held more detailed talks previously. Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Councilors have supported the Library Field protections throughout the process.
Parigian, a Norfolk Avenue resident, essentially launched a movement to preserve the field in 2015. Parigian thanked the elected officials on Thursday, saying the preservation of the field was “perfect.”
Parigian started to press the issue in mid-2015 in response to a City Hall-organized exercise involving architects, planners and designers that was centered on the prospects of development and broader community uses along the lower Park Avenue corridor. The exercise, known as a design studio, broached the idea of developing part of the Library Field with some sort of work force or otherwise restricted housing. The figures involved in the design studio produced rough sketches showing where housing could potentially fit on the land. Neighborhood resistance quickly materialized as the design studio and the sketches were publicized, leading to the effort to preserve the land.
The Library Field has long been a popular spot for Old Town residents to play catch, run their dogs off leashes and greet neighbors. It is seen as a relaxing tract of open land as opposed to the heavily used City Park nearby.
Parigian praised the Library Field as a “special spot in many people’s history, many people’s minds.” He said the Library Field will be the “backyard” for City Hall housing developments in Woodside Park.
Supporters of the Library Field are scheduled to mark the protection of the land on Sunday with a square-dancing event dubbed the Old Town Hoedown. It is scheduled from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.