Park City Treasure opposition sees deal as ‘our dream’
January 26, 2018
The opposition to the Treasure proposal has repeatedly called for City Hall and the developer to reach a conservation agreement that would eliminate the prospects of a project of any size on the high-profile hillside.
Park City officials on Wednesday did just that as they finalized a rapid round of negotiations resulting in a deal to acquire the Treasure land for $64 million. The agreement hinges on Park City voters in November approving a ballot measure that will be set at approximately $50 million, with the remaining sum expected to be raised from the City Hall budget.
The opposition quickly cheered the agreement as something that will benefit the entire community. The opposition has long argued that the impacts of Treasure if it is developed would stretch through Park City with traffic backups, years of construction and what project critics say would be a blight on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
"It's been our dream, our vision, our hope," said Brian Van Hecke, an Empire Avenue resident who was one of the founders of a Treasure opposition group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition.
Van Hecke expressed gratitude toward the Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, for its willingness to negotiate an agreement with City Hall. He also praised the efforts of a roster of Park City officials, including Mayor Andy Beerman and former Mayor Jack Thomas.
Van Hecke said a conservation deal for Treasure would trump City Hall's acquisition of Bonanza Flat as the most critical land purchase in Park City's renowned open space program. The Treasure land is centrally located while Bonanza Flat is remote, he argued.
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"We believe Treasure Hill is even more important because it's right in front of us," Van Hecke said, adding, "The benefit will be even greater for generations to come."
He said the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition intends to advocate in favor of the ballot measure. Van Hecke acknowledged the approximately $50 million would be a "big ask" of Park City voters, but it would be a worthy expenditure.
"It is the best investment we can make as a community – to protect and preserve historic Old Town and the quality of life we love in Park City," Van Hecke said.
The Treasure opposition in recent weeks continued to press for an agreement that involves the elimination of a project in any form. There has been concern that voters would reject a ballot measure that would fund the acquisition of 50 percent of the development rights attached to the land, leaving the rest of them intact. There did not appear to be an opportunity for City Hall to negotiate a full buyout until this week's moves.
The Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition's membership stretches through the area, but the core group of opponents generally hails from streets close to the Treasure land like Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. Backers of a ballot measure to fund a Treasure deal would likely need to press the issue across Park City neighborhoods to secure the support needed for passage.