A field forever? Park City considers future of library land
Some of the people in Park City on Monday will undoubtedly celebrate the 4th of July watching the fireworks show from the field outside the Park City Library, a beloved swath of grass in heavily developed Old Town.
Ed Parigian hopes generations of Parkites can celebrate Independence Day with the same view.
Parigian, an Old Town resident who lives close to the library field, continues to press City Hall to place tighter restrictions on the field meant to protect the land from development. He has spent nearly a year leading the efforts, forming an advocacy group and approaching Park City officials with the idea. He said he collected more than 300 signatures on a petition seeking protection for the field.
A City Hall panel on Tuesday discussed the possibility of preserving the field, but decisions are still likely months away. The Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee wants to gather more information before making a recommendation to the Park City Council. It is not clear what sort of timeline the panel will follow, but putting the idea to the Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee is an important step regardless of the schedule that will be followed. The next meeting about the topic is scheduled July 26.
“No building, ever,” Parigian said in an interview. “Leave it as a field of grass. We don’t even want a promenade.”
The library field has for years been a popular neighborhood gathering spot. It is a place to run dogs, play catch and greet friends. Park City leaders recently designated most of the library field an off-leash area.
But there remains concern that, one day, a future set of Park City leaders could opt to develop the field in some fashion. The worries date to mid-2015, when a City Hall-organized exercise involving architects, planners and designers studied development possibilities along the lower Park Avenue corridor. City Hall holds a patchwork of properties on or close to lower Park Avenue and is readying an overall development plan for the municipal parcels.
Some of the scenarios crafted during the design studio envisioned building residences on portions of the library field as part of City Hall’s efforts to develop work force or otherwise restricted housing. Rough sketches showed possible site plans for housing on the field, dismaying critics.
The ideas for development on the library field did not advance, and officials have said projects on the field like those contemplated during the design studio are not under consideration. The discussions about the library field prompted Parigian to form a group called Save the Library Field.
The Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee, which recommends conservation acquisitions and is involved is other issues regarding City Hall lands, will eventually consider a range of options for the library field.
Heinrich Deters, the trails and open space manager for City Hall and a staffer who works closely with the panel, said the possibilities involve a number of means to protect the land.
Deters, as examples, said options could include what are known as conservation easements or restrictions on the deed, two popular ways to protect land from development. Deters said another option could include a tightening of the City Hall zoning that regulates development at the library field. It is already zoned as recreation and open space, however.
“What does the community want to allow there,” Deters said.
Deters predicted the upcoming discussions about the library field will be nuanced as the Citizens Open Space Advisory Committee and others interested in the land learn more about the options. Deters outlined that tight restrictions meant to protect the land from development could later result in consequences that were not anticipated. They could possibly prevent creating a community garden one day or building a fence around the off-leash area, he said.
Deters also said tight restrictions could impact special events such as the Sundance Film Festival, which typically puts up a temporary tent as part of the operations of a screening room inside the Santy Auditorium at the library. Parigian said his group would be amenable to restrictions that would allow events to occasionally use the field.
“We won’t want to limit a community activity the community wants through some sort of instrument,” Deters said.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.