Park City election: could 84060 + 84098 be part of equation?
Candidate encouraged to press massive but highly unlikely annexation
THE PARK RECORD
It was just after Roger Armstrong declared himself a candidate in the Park City mayoral election that a topic, delicate for more than 20 years, briefly emerged: whether Park City should annex the Snyderville Basin.
Armstrong is an Aspen Springs resident who serves as a member of the Summit County Council. He is one of three high-profile figures who is campaigning for the mayor’s office in a contest that also includes Park City Councilor Andy Beerman and Dana Williams, who served three terms as the mayor ending in early 2014.
The topic was broached in a social media posting about annexing the 84098 ZIP code, which covers the Snyderville Basin. Annette Velarde wrote the posting encouraging Armstrong to “reopen the conversation” about an annexation and saying it is “time to make this right.” Armstrong responded to the posting with a thank you but offering no opinion of the idea.
It seems highly unlikely the prospects of a Park City annexation of the Snyderville Basin will become a campaign issue for any of them, but even the mention of the idea is noteworthy in an election that includes a candidate like Armstrong, who holds an office that includes the people of the Snyderville Basin as constituents.
Armstrong said in an interview annexing the Snyderville Basin into Park City is not a part of his platform. He said he has never studied the topic and nobody has mentioned the idea to him in person.
In an interview, Velarde, a Snyderville Basin resident, said people who live there contribute to the community of Park City “and yet we have no voice.”
“I think it’s something that’s been wrong for the past 50 years,” she said.
The municipal borders of Park City essentially stretch north and south from the upper reaches of Deer Valley to the edge of Park Meadows and east and west from the McPolin Farm to Quinn’s Junction. The Snyderville Basin, meanwhile, covers a large expanse that can be broadly defined as including anything on the West Side of Summit County that is not within the Park City limits. It is typically sees as involving the neighborhoods and commercial districts along Interstate 80, U.S. 40 and S.R. 224.
Many consider the fates of Park City and the Snyderville Basin as interconnected as the economies are similarly heavily based on the resort industry and related sectors, and the two are faced with similar challenges regarding growth. There have also been cooperative efforts between the two jurisdictions on critical issues like open space, recreation planning and transit, including the widely hailed step of expanding the Park City bus system into the Snyderville Basin.
The idea of Park City annexing the Snyderville Basin has been mentioned over the years, primarily by people outside the municipal boundaries, but there has never been momentum for such a move.
Some have claimed there is confusion in the Snyderville Basin since postal addresses there identify the city as Park City. A few Snyderville Basin residents even have briefly mounted campaigns for political office inside Park City before encountering the reality of election rules that require someone be a Park City resident to seek office inside the city.
Others have said the Snyderville Basin would fit well into the Park City limits based on the similarities. A separate line of thinking has been a call for the Snyderville Basin to incorporate into a new municipality, another idea that has never gained the necessary political traction.
Velarde said some people in the Snyderville Basin hold the erroneous belief that they live inside Park City. She said the Snyderville Basin does not want to incorporate into a new municipality based on a concern about the prospects of falling real estate prices since a city would not keep the widely known name “Park City” in the address. An incorporated municipality could be called “Snyderville,” she said.
The issue is “so touchy in 84060. They’re not willing to bring it up,” Velarde said about the candidates, describing that there is a sense of “entitlement and superiority” inside Park City that some do not want to extend into the Snyderville Basin.
There would almost certainly be resistance inside Park City even if initial moves are made by the sides to annex the Snyderville Basin. Annexations in the area, which are sometimes highly controversial, have traditionally involved open land with development rights negotiated prior to Park City accepting the acreage. There are already dense neighborhoods and commercial districts throughout the Snyderville Basin with prospects for vast additional development. People in Park City have long considered the growth patterns, architecture and overall design of development inside the municipal borders to be superior to those in the Snyderville Basin, seen by critics as sprawl.
There would also need to be high-stakes negotiations about public services if an annexation was pursued. The waterworks system, snowplowing and law enforcement would be just some of the services that would need to be addressed in an annexation. Taxes would also be a tricky issue as the sides set rates on property and sales that would be expected to be different than they are now in the Snyderville Basin.
The Park City campaign this year, which also includes two seats on the City Council, is anticipated to stress issues like growth and traffic. The issues are also top-tier political questions in the Snyderville Basin. There will likely be calls by the Park City candidates for increased cooperation between the Marsac Building and the County Courthouse, as has been the case in the past, but a platform that includes an annexation of the Snyderville Basin would be a dramatic addition to the political season.
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Bruce Erickson, the planning director at City Hall, has died, the municipal government said. Erickson was involved at some level in nearly all the major decisions regarding growth and development in Park City since the early 1990s.