Park City Treasure vote: quality of life, schools bond part of fray
Representatives of the opposing sides of the Park City ballot measure to raise the funds needed to acquire the Treasure acreage in a conservation deal submitted statements to the County Courthouse for publication in official election materials, expectedly centering their arguments on topics that will likely be heavily debated as the crucial stretch of the election season arrives.
Cindy Matsumoto, a former member of the Park City Council, drafted the statement in support of the $48 million ballot measure while Steve Streamer, a Park Meadows resident, wrote the statement in opposition. The monies that would be raised through a successful ballot measure would fund most of the cost of a $64 million acquisition of Treasure as well as an up to $3 million contribution to a separate conservation deal in Thaynes Canyon, known as Snow Ranch Pasture.
Neither Matsumoto nor Streamer make surprise comments in their statements. The two instead provide an outline of issues that had already been well established in the discussions about the ballot measure. Each of them will have the opportunity to write a rebuttal that will also be published in the election materials.
Matsumoto discusses the history of Park City’s lauded open space program, mentioning the acquisitions of the McPolin Farm and acreage in Round Valley that checked development in those entryway locations. The municipal open space acquisitions “define the community we all love,” she says.
“Treasure Hill and the Armstrong Snow Ranch Pastures have been under the threat of large scale development for decades. These are two of the last large open spaces left within the City limits,” Matsumoto says. “Many dedicated Planning Commissions and City Councils have grappled with how to handle the densities permitted on these properties without success.”
If the two parcels are set aside from development, she says, “all of the entitled density will be removed from these properties forever, giving us less traffic, less pollution, less water consumption, and a better quality of life for everyone.”
Matsumoto outlines that previous voter-approved bonds for open spaces will be retired in coming years, meaning property taxes paid to City Hall will drop over time. She says Park City is in a strong financial situation with a low property-tax rate compared to elsewhere in Utah and a high bond rating. She says property taxes paid to Park City would “remain among the lowest in the nation” should the ballot measure be approved.
The former City Councilor, meanwhile, also says a Treasure development “will be devastating to our entire community” should the ballot measure fail and the project move forward. She talks about the square footage of a Treasure development, the prospects of up to 12 years of construction, the excavation and blasting required, a projected increase of traffic by 1,000 trips by vehicles each day and an increase in the amount of water used in the community.
Matsumoto also notes the possibility of a development of more than 48 homes on the Snow Ranch Pasture land.
Streamer touches on a range of issues in his statement in opposition to the ballot measure, arguing most of the Treasure land would be left undeveloped if a project proceeds. He says a project would stretch through 10 acres rather than across the 100-plus acres of Treasure land. That, he says, makes the proposed acquisition different from other City Hall land deals like those in Bonanza Flat, Round Valley and the McPolin Farm.
He says a Treasure development would involve approximately 850,000 square feet rather than the approximately 1 million square feet long publicized. Streamer questions Park City leaders’ decision to delay capital projects to shift funds to the Treasure deal.
“If these projects are ‘discretionary’, why were they in the budget? Delayed projects usually end up costing more than the original proposed budget. These are classic examples of poor City Council governance over our tax dollars,” he writes.
Streamer discusses the Treasure vote in the context of an expected Park City School District bond election that could be pegged at a figure that would top the $48 million for Treasure and Snow Ranch Pasture.
“A Park City school bond will also most likely happen within the life of the proposed Treasure bond. Considering the school bond will be in the $100-150 million range, that is at least another Treasure bond (if not more) in increased taxes. Education is far more important than reducing competition for Main Street businesses,” the Streamer statement says.
Streamer argues businesses along Main Street and people who live in Old Town would benefit from a successful ballot measure.
“Main Street is the heart and soul of our tourist-industry, not the community at large. Most of the Main Street businesses are geared toward tourists. Why should ALL Park City residents pay for this tourist amenity that would be difficult to access,” he says.
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Park City recently detailed the efforts to fill a range of vacant municipal posts in 2018 and 2019 as officials described the challenges City Hall has encountered in its hiring amid a hot economy.