A Park City question: will voters support millions for Bonanza Flats?
City Hall on Election Day will ask Park City voters to approve a $25 million bond in hopes that a long-desired swath of land high in the mountains in Wasatch County will someday be available in a conservation deal.
The Park City Council at a recent meeting voted unanimously to place the measure on the ballot in November, indicating there is community support for passage. Officials, though, also reiterated that the land, known as Bonanza Flats, is not currently available to Park City. City Hall leaders want to secure voter authorization for the $25 million to ensure the funding is readily available if an acquisition is eventually negotiated. The bonds would not be sold if the ballot measure passes and a deal is then not reached.
The land stretches across approximately 1,400 acres south of the Park City limits. It is downhill from Guardsman Pass. Park City has been interested in a conservation deal of some sort involving Bonanza Flats for years.
Bonanza Flats is owned by a firm called Redus, LLC. It is under the umbrella of Wells Fargo and Midtown Acquisitions, which are the lenders that brought a foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family that involved Bonanza Flats and other lands in the area. Redus, LLC took possession of Bonanza Flats as a result of the foreclosure.
The City Council received testimony in support of the decision to place the measure on the ballot. Speakers touted Bonanza Flats as a desirable tract of land to preserve.
Wendy Fisher, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, told the elected officials Bonanza Flats is the “quintessential Utah playground.” Bridgette Meinhold, who lives in the Wasatch County community of Brighton Estates close to Bonanza Flats, called the acreage a “spectacular piece of property.”
Jim Doilney, who is a onetime Park City Councilor, longtime conservation activist Cheryl Fox and Future Park City figure Angela Moschetta were also among those who spoke in support of the ballot measure.
The elected officials did not offer detailed comments about the decision. They spoke in broad terms as they addressed the issue for a second consecutive meeting. Tim Henney, a City Councilor, said there is “tremendous support” in the community for a ballot measure. He said the City Council has received numerous correspondences backing the decision.
A $25 million bond would be paid off over 15 years if a deal is reached to acquire Bonanza Flats. City Hall estimates someone owning a primary residence valued at $810,000 would pay $122.67 more in property taxes each year if the ballot measure passes and the land is acquired. Someone who owns a vacation home or a commercial property valued at $810,000 would pay $223.05 more per year.
Bonanza Flats in the 1990s, then under the ownership of United Park City Mines, was a chip in the highly charged talks about the development that was built as Empire Pass. At one point in those talks, Bonanza Flats was to be set aside as open space. The agreement that was eventually reached between City Hall and United Park City Mines, though, capped development in Bonanza Flats at 260 units. It was envisioned then as a golf-and-ski resort. City Hall said recently a development firm called Discovery Land Company is also interested in the same land the municipal government desires.
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The Park City Council field is scheduled to appear together next week for the first time, gathering for a candidate forum that will be held as the primary election nears but also at a time when it seems the campaign itself has had difficulty seizing the attention of voters.