Park City wants to open the doors to the iconic white barn
The McPolin Farm draws cross-country skiers in the winter and hikers, bicyclists and photographers in the summer and fall.
The white barn that anchors the iconic City Hall-owned farm, though, has largely been closed for years amid concerns about the safety of the large structure. People could wander through the grounds surrounding the barn only to wonder about the inside.
The municipal government in 2016 completed a major renovation of the building, seen as one of City Hall’s significant preservation projects, and is now considering options to allow people inside on what would be a limited basis.
Officials recently submitted an application to the Park City Planning Department seeking to amend a permit dating to 2006 that outlines activities allowed on the property. The permit predates the renovation by a decade and prohibits use of the interior of the barn based on safety concerns. The renovation addressed the issues related to safety, giving City Hall the option to use the barn in a manner that was previously prohibited. An amended permit would allow limited uses inside the barn. The Park City Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider the matter at a meeting on April 24. A hearing is planned and the panel could cast a vote.
Minda Stockdale, who manages the McPolin Farm for City Hall, said four or five days of barn tours — involving up to 25 people each tour — are under consideration as part of a pilot program. The overall permit outlining the uses allowed at the farm includes a 12-event annual cap. The four or five tours would count toward the cap, alongside other events like the annual Scarecrow Festival.
Stockdale said a group that helps crafts policies for the McPolin Farm, called the Friends of the Farm, is interested in broadening the “educational enjoyment” of the property.
“Staff and the Friends of the Farm want to find a middle ground that allows the community to enjoy the recent historic renovation and preservation work, while at the same time preventing the Farm from being ‘overloved,’” Stockdale wrote in a recent report submitted to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council.
Private events, such as weddings, are not under consideration.
The McPolin Farm, acquired by City Hall in 1990 for conservation purposes, provides a green space between development in the Snyderville Basin and Park City neighborhoods. It once was a dairy farm. It has been available for recreational purposes throughout the City Hall ownership, but ideas for heavier sorts of uses have drawn concerns about crowds and traffic.
The renovation eventually was expected under the municipal ownership. The work removed a system of wires that supported the barn and replaced that system with steel framing designed to greatly strengthen the structure’s skeleton. Foundation work was undertaken and a new roof was installed. The renovation also included restoring windows to a historic appearance.
The Planning Commission is expected to address a list of issues that are standard in discussions about allowing some sort of public uses of a property. The panel will likely especially dwell on topics like parking at the farm. There are a limited number of spaces outside the farm grounds, across S.R. 224. Planning Commissioners could raise questions about the adequacy of the parking as well as transportation options that could shuttle people to and from the grounds instead of personal vehicles.
Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, said the department also wants to ensure the grounds of the farm remain open to the public at times tours of the barn itself are scheduled. Erickson said the Planning Department supports the efforts to publicize what is one of City Hall’s most notable preservation projects. He described the plans for the barn tours as a “controlled response to the City Council wanting to add a little bit more visibility” to the municipal government’s preservation efforts.
“This is a fairly good message to the public,” Erickson said about the work on the barn. “If you take care of these things, they’ll survive.”
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