Park City stacks Treasure panel with buyout supporters
Rory Murphy, a Park City developer who once served on the Park City Planning Commission, supports City Hall’s efforts to acquire the Treasure land in a conservation deal.
So do Adam Strachan, who is another former member of the Planning Commission, 1980s-era Park City Councilor Ann MacQuoid and Andy Beerman, the mayor of Park City and a figure who had an important role in negotiating the proposed acquisition.
They are four of the five panelists who were scheduled to discuss Treasure during a forum that was slated for the evening of Tuesday, June 5. The other person scheduled for the panel, Nate Rockwood, is a City Hall budget staffer who has an instrumental role in crafting the financial aspects of the deal.
The forum on Tuesday evening was expected to be a critical event after a lull in the discussions about Treasure. Even though a ballot measure would not be put to voters until November, the gathering on Tuesday was seen as important since it could be used to set a tone well before the campaign starts in earnest.
But missing from the roster of speakers was anyone who opposes the Treasure deal, priced at $64 million. It would be, by a wide margin, the most expensive acquisition in the history of City Hall’s open space program, soaring above the $38 million paid for Bonanza Flat. City Hall intends to ask Park City voters to fund most of the acquisition cost of Treasure through a bond that is expected to be priced at between $50 million and $55 million.
The election season has started for the political candidates who must compete for their party’s nomination in a primary later in June. There has been limited community chatter about the Treasure ballot measure, though, even as the bond election for Park City voters could overshadow the political contests based on the dollar figure and the high-profile Treasure acreage at stake.
The supporters of the Treasure deal and necessary ballot measure to fund the acquisition have, thus far, been the vocal side of the debate. They argue the deal is worthwhile even at a price tag in the $50 million range. The land occupies a prized location on a hillside overlooking Old Town and a development there would have dramatic impacts on traffic and the backdrop of Main Street, they say. The Planning Commission in February, with Strachan still a panel member, passed a resolution supporting the acquisition. The supporters appear confident as the summer starts.
The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, spent years in talks with the Planning Commission about a development proposal involving approximately 1 million square feet. There was limited progress as critics seized on issues like traffic and the overall size of the proposal.
Park City staffers chose the panelists and organized the Tuesday forum. Myles Rademan, a former high-ranking City Hall official whose work at the municipal government included duties related to the open space program, was tapped to moderate.
There is not known organized opposition to the Treasure ballot measure, and it is unclear whether a group will form to lobby against the deal. Although there was little public support for the proposed Treasure development itself, it is difficult to ascertain whether the lopsidedness of the debate about the project provides a definitive representation of the mood of Parkites as they consider voting for a property tax increase.
Any organized opposition could appear before the traditional Labor Day start to the Park City campaign season. Park City leaders continue to finalize the figure that will be attached to the ballot measure during the ongoing budget talks. Once the dollar figure is finalized, Park City property owners will have a more detailed projection of the impact on taxes should a ballot measure be successful.
Organized opposition would likely press topics like the property taxes that will be needed to fund the acquisition and the interest on the deal as City Hall repays the bond. They could also possibly challenge assertions that the acquisition of Treasure is something that will broadly benefit the entire community rather than the individual neighborhood of Old Town.
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