Park City told $24 million bond for Treasure may fail
January 5, 2018
Park City leaders on Thursday received testimony raising questions about whether voters later in 2018 would support a ballot measure to fund a deal to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure, illustrating continuing concern about the prospects of a bond that may be put to Parkites in November.
The idea that voters may reject what would be a $24 million ballot measure to fund most of the $30 million price tag has loomed over the discussions that have unfolded in recent weeks. A deal would hinge on the vote. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday continued their discussions about Treasure, but some of the testimony from the audience seemed especially important as the public weighs the possibility of a ballot measure.
There have been sporadic mentions of a Park City School District bond rejected by voters as people cautioned City Hall officials that a ballot measure to fund a Treasure deal may not succeed. That topic was again broached on Thursday.
Steven Swanson, a Treasure critic, was one of the speakers on Thursday that noted the School District bond. He said the failed bond in the School District showed that an open and public process is needed. Swanson also said the School District learned that a "concentrated minority of voters" impacted the results.
"In 2015, the district found out by a resounding defeat of their bond. So, if we don't want to repeat that, I suppose my biggest suggestion would be to open the process up as much as possible. I understand maybe that's beginning. That's a good thing," Swanson said.
He added that Park City is a different entity than the School District, which stretches well outside the Park City limits to incorporate the Snyderville Basin as well. The mayor told Swanson officials want the Treasure process to remain as transparent as possible.
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City Hall reached a $30 million deal to acquire the Sweeney family's 50 percent stake in Treasure. The Sweeney family was the traditional owner of the hillside land overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The land is now under the ownership of a partnership involving the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured development rights on the Treasure land and nearby parcels. The Treasure side has spent more than a decade in on-and-off talks with the Park City Planning Commission about a project involving upward of 1 million square feet. There have been broad concerns about topics like the traffic Treasure would attract to nearby roads, the overall size of the project and the construction impacts. The discussions about City Hall acquiring the Sweeney family's stake are seen as an effort to reduce the square footage and significantly redesign the project.
Rich Wyman, another Treasure critic, also raised a question about the prospects of the passage of a ballot measure. He said he was disappointed that the Park City Planning Commission did not cast a vote on the disputed Treasure development proposal. A vote was anticipated in late 2017 but then delayed indefinitely depending on the outcome of the new set of discussions about City Hall acquiring a 50 percent stake. Wyman said many people monitoring Treasure respected the Planning Commission process.
"Are you asking the citizens to pay $30 million for the Sweeneys to just do the right thing? Is that what this is? And if that's the case, I'm not sure people will support that. They should just do the right thing. They shouldn't be paid $30 million to do the right thing," Wyman said.
Wyman told the elected officials of Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts' recent step in anticipation of a major redevelopment of the base area at PCMR. He asked whether an agreement could be struck that would transfer the development rights attached to the Treasure land to the PCMR base.
Brian Van Hecke, a leader in the Treasure opposition, said a ballot measure would have the best chance of passing if details are known about the future of the project. He briefly addressed concerns about the layout of a redesigned Treasure option, noting the excavation that would be required. Van Hecke also said officials need to take into consideration development in the vicinity of Treasure as they discuss the project itself.
"The total density that is yet to be built at the base of the Park City Mountain Resort is near 800,000 square feet. Let me say that again, 800,000 square feet yet to come at the base of Park City Mountain Resort in addition to the Treasure Hill and everything else. So, how does traffic flow, and we have to really think through that," Van Hecke said.