Park City Treasure deal opponent rallies in waning days of campaign
October 22, 2018
An opponent of Park City's ballot measure to fund most of the cost of an acquisition of the Treasure acreage in a conservation agreement has scheduled an event designed to provide a forum to discuss the deal, impacts and alternatives.
The event is scheduled on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Crystal Park Cantina, 412 Main St. Mark Stemler, a Main Street building owner, organized the event. Stemler in recent weeks has been one of the most prominent critics of the deal for Treasure.
The opponents to the ballot measure are not organized in the same fashion as the supporters, who coalesced months ago with informational gatherings and yard signs. Stemler appears to be one of the leading critics of the deal, but the opposition has seemed to be fragmented.
People who support the ballot measure and opponents are welcome. The organizers see the event as an open forum.
Stemler continued to maintain in an interview he does not support the Treasure development proposal but argued there are other methods to reach a conservation agreement for the land.
City Hall reached a $64 million agreement with the Treasure partnership to acquire the land for conservation purposes after years of talks about a major development on the land, which is located on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. The deal depends on the passage of a $48 million ballot measure.
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Stemler, though, contends more time is needed to negotiate a better deal for the land. One idea pushed by Stemler involves City Hall acquiring the land and then selling a small portion of the acreage to allow houses on that part of the land. The sales of the parcels for the houses would recoup some of the cost of the acquisition, he explained, adding that not all the acreage needs to be left undeveloped.
Stemler also argues there is the possibility of City Hall pressing an eminent domain case regarding the Treasure land.
"Either vote 'Yes' or drink cyanide," Stemler said about the choice on the ballot measure, adding, "What they're doing is force feeding us, selfishly."
He said a successful ballot measure would impact the affordability of Park City. The owners of commercial properties and rental units will increase rates to reflect the tax increase, he said. Consumer prices will rise as the commercial rates increase, he said.
"This is trickle-down economics, on a tax," he said.
Stemler, meanwhile, questioned the strategy employed by City Hall as leaders crafted a plan to raise the funds needed for the deal. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council in the spring and summer undertook a detailed review of the municipal budget as they shifted monies toward the deal for Treasure in an effort to reduce the amount that would be attached to a ballot measure.
Stemler said monies were moved away from capital projects to be put toward the Treasure deal. But, he said, City Hall did not cut personnel costs at the same time. If funding is reduced for capital projects, fewer staff resources are needed, he said.
"One doesn't happen without the other," he said. "You're not going to reduce staff? How does that work?"