Park City readies added protection against development at golf course, park
Officials want the Park City Golf Club to remain as greens, roughs, water hazards and sand traps.
They also want City Park to retain its status as a place for softball players and other recreation lovers.
City Hall is considering additional protections for four parks and the Golf Club, a move that, if endorsed, would make it much more difficult for Park City leaders of the future to alter the parks and the Golf Club beyond making recreational upgrades. It would be an important step in blocking development of the lands.
Although the current set of elected officials and those over preceding decades never pressed forward with any sort of development plan for the lands, protections like the ones under consideration would, essentially, serve as a message from the leaders circa 2019 of the importance to the community of the parks and recreation status of the lands.
Park City’s elected officials at a recent meeting discussed the possibilities and are expected to return to the topic later. The Recreation Advisory Board, a City Hall panel that holds influence on matters regarding municipal parks, earlier unanimously recommended in favor of the additional protections. The lands under consideration are:
• City Park
• the Park City Golf Club
• Rotary Park
• Prospector Park
• Creekside Park
The locations are currently protected through the underlying City Hall zoning, which identifies the lands as open space for recreation purposes. The underlying zoning is an important tool in protecting the lands, but a future set of elected officials could change the zoning to allow development. A zoning change requires a recommendation by the Park City Planning Commission followed by a vote by the City Council, a process that is reasonably straightforward and one that can be accomplished in a matter of months.
Officials in the case of the five locations are weighing a dramatically tightened process that would address the potential sale of the properties, another sort of change in ownership or a change in the zoning. The tightened process under consideration would require those sorts of moves — which would each likely prove controversial — to be approved by at least four out of the five members of the City Council rather than the usual three-vote majority.
If four of the five City Councilors support a sale, a different sort of change in ownership or a change in the zoning, the decision would then be put to the Park City voters as a ballot measure. At least 60 percent of the voters would be required to cast ballots in favor of a move involving the lands.
There once was a similar protection attached to the City Hall-owned McPolin Farm. The additional protection is sometimes referred to as “super-zoning” to reflect the tightened process. The farm is now protected under a mechanism known as a conservation easement.
“We are looking to put some additional measures in place to make it so that couldn’t happen,” Tate Shaw, the assistant recreation manager, said about the possibility of a sale or a change in the zoning, calling the lands under consideration “the iconic ones.”
There has been occasional talk of tightened protections for the lands, but the current discussions appear to have more momentum. The Recreation Advisory Board will likely address the topic again followed by more talks by the City Council by the end of the summer. It is not clear when the elected officials will make a decision. The elected officials will likely support the efforts in broad terms, but there could be questions about whether additional protections could hamstring future sets of elected officials confronted with some sort of scenario that is inconceivable to today’s mayor and City Councilors.
Each of the locations provides Parkites with a different sort of park or recreation experience. The Golf Club and City Park are especially busy with organized sports while the other three offer respite within neighborhoods.
Any discussion about additional protections for the Park City Golf Club would be especially noteworthy. The land underlying the Thaynes Canyon course would have great development potential, meaning that another layer of protection could win broad community support from people who want the acreage to remain a golf course.
There have been at least two instances in the last six years involving ideas for City Hall to develop the golf course in some fashion. A City Hall-hired consultant in 2013 drafted a report that identified the golf course as it discussed potential locations for housing. The report indicated there was enough land for up to 450 homes. Five years later, in 2018, a Park City man who was vying for a seat on the Park City Planning Commission outlined an idea involving City Hall developing workforce or otherwise restricted housing on part of the course. Officials did not pursue either of the ideas.
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