Park City Treasure vote: A 2011 survey could provide insights for today | ParkRecord.com

Park City Treasure vote: A 2011 survey could provide insights for today

Park City voters on Election Day will decide whether to fund the acquisition of the Treasure acreage on a hillside overlooking Old Town. A 2011 survey conducted by City Hall included a question regarding Treasure that garnered answers that could be telling today.

It was July of 2011, and the talks about the Treasure development proposal had already become difficult.

People who lived on streets close to the Treasure acreage were leery of the traffic, the height of the buildings and the overall square footage, concerns that continue today as Park City voters prepare to decide whether to approve a ballot measure that would fund most of the $64 million cost of a conservation deal that would set aside the Treasure land as open space.

At that time it seemed that a conservation agreement of some sort was possible between City Hall and the Treasure partnership. Perhaps some of the 1980s-era development rights attached to the Treasure land could be shifted to Park City Mountain Resort. Or, possibly, City Hall could reach an agreement to extinguish the development rights altogether.

The municipal government that month conducted what was considered to be a statistically valid survey about a broad range of Park City issues, polling 1,200 households selected at random. The National Citizen Survey included a crucial question about Treasure that, more than seven years later, could provide insight as the voting is underway on a $48 million ballot measure that would fund most of the $64 million price tag attached to Treasure.

The survey in 2011 inquired about the prospects of extinguishing the Treasure development rights altogether as well as a different scenario that envisioned shifting a portion of the square footage to PCMR and leaving some on the Treasure land. The responses to the option calling for the extinguishment of the rights are especially intriguing as voters next week will decide that question.

The survey provided eight dollar-figure ranges attached to a 15-year property-tax increase that would have been needed to fund a full buyout of the development rights and asked respondents how much they'd be willing to pay. The ranges started at $0 — those who were not willing to pay anything — and ran to $500 or more annually. The most popular answer, garnering 28 percent, was $0. It was more than 10 percentage points higher than any other answer.

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The other answers, based on annual payments, were:
• 17 percent willing to pay $500 or more
• 5 percent at between $400 and $499
• 7 percent at between $300 and $399
• 5 percent at between $200 and $299
• 11 percent at between $100 and $199
• 13 percent at between $50 and $99
• 15 percent at between $1 and $49

The survey was conducted before City Hall temporarily abandoned its efforts to acquire Treasure in a conservation deal, when the landowners priced a deal at just less than $93 million in late 2011. It was not until early 2018 that the possibility of a buyout at the $64 million figure was negotiated.

It has been more than seven years since the survey was taken, and the community has changed dramatically since then. In July of 2011, the national economy was recovering from the recession, but it was not as strong as it appears today. Parkites at the time of the survey were likely more concerned with the economy so shortly after the recession than they are now. There also seems to be more worries about growth and development nowadays than there were seven years ago, before the changes in ownership of Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, that could influence voters deciding the Treasure ballot measure.

A successful ballot measure this year would also include funding for a contribution of up to $3 million for an unrelated conservation deal in Thaynes Canyon, another variable between the situation in 2011 and the current efforts.

If successful, the $48 million ballot measure before Park City voters this year would be estimated to cost the owner of an $800,000 residence classified as a primary home an additional $194 annually while the owner of a vacation home or a business property of the same value would pay an estimated $353 each year.

The 2011 survey results would place the $194 annual figure of today in the minority. The results showed 45 percent would have been willing to pay $100 or more annually while 56 percent were not willing to pay anything or willing to pay up to $99 per year. Rounding caused the numbers to equal just more than 100 percent.

The response rate to the 2011 survey was 29 percent. The margin of error was five percent to the plus or minus sides.

The biannual National Citizen Survey has not inquired about Treasure since the 2011 questioning. City Hall did not conduct a scientific poll regarding the $64 million agreement to acquire Treasure or the $48 million ballot measure required to fund the deal. Leaders instead gathered input through community meetings.