Park City voters receive mailer with exaggerated Treasure details
October 19, 2018
Park City voters in recent days likely received a mailer about City Hall's $48 million ballot measure that would fund most of the cost of the acquisition of Treasure in a conservation deal.
If the ballot measure fails, the mailer says, the project would encompass a 1 million-square-foot hotel. The mailer includes a computer-generated rendering of Treasure that has been displayed repeatedly during the discussions about the development proposal on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
But the 1 million-square-foot figure is an exaggerated number based on earlier talks between the Treasure partnership and the Park City Planning Commission. The square footage has fluctuated over the course of the decade-plus of discussions, and it was widely publicized as involving approximately 1 million square feet for an extended period.
The partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, though, were pursuing a development of approximately 960,730 square feet as the discussions with the Park City Planning Commission were suspended amid the moves toward a conservation deal, putting the square footage at that time below the mark identified in the mailer.
Moreover, if the ballot measure fails and the Treasure partnership returns to the talks with the Planning Commission, the agreement between City Hall and the partnership calls for a 10 percent reduction in the project. Park City officials secured the reduction through a $6 million down payment.
A member of the Sweeney family recently said a redesigned project to take into account the reduction would involve 903,648 square feet. The figure is nearly 10 percent lower than the 1 million square feet identified in the mailer.
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Square footage has been one of the crucial issues in the discussions about the Treasure development as members of the Planning Commission and project critics pored over the numbers as they compared them to the 1980s-era overall development approval for the Treasure land and nearby parcels.
The project critics claim a square footage at the numbers the partnership has pursued was not contemplated in the 1980s approval while the Treasure side has argued otherwise.
The mailer arrived just before voters in Park City were poised to receive their ballots in the mail. The Treasure decision has been, by a wide margin, the most contentious item on the ballot in Park City, and the tension seemed to mount quickly over the past week or so.
A consortium of four groups that support the ballot measure — Summit Land Conservancy, Mountain Trails Foundation, the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition and Utah Open Lands — assisted in the funding for the mailer, and Summit Land Conservancy funded the postage and is listed as the return addressee.
Cheryl Fox, the executive director of the conservancy, acknowledged in an interview the number is "floating right around 1 million square feet." She said the number identified in the mailer was calculated by reviewing years of documents from City Hall reports and proposals from the developer. She said the discrepancy between the number identified in the mailer and the actual figure is minimal. Treasure would be a "massive, disruptive development" whether it is 940,000 square feet, 960,000 square feet or 1 million square feet, she said.
"That really is splitting hairs. This thing is massive, no matter how you look at it," she said.
Summit Land Conservancy has a financial relationship with City Hall through a contract for land stewardship. The not-for-profit organization holds what are known as conservation easements on municipal open spaces like Round Valley and the McPolin Farm. Conservation easements are the instruments that outline the restrictions on protected lands. The contract with City Hall covers some of the costs of monitoring the easements, Fox said.