Park City expected to delay contaminated soils facility talks for several months
Mayor says further discussions are ‘on pause’
Park City will likely delay for at least several months more discussions about the concept of building a facility to store soils containing contaminants dating from the silver mining era, Mayor Andy Beerman said early in the week.
In a Monday statement in response to a Park Record inquiry, Beerman briefly addressed the topic shortly after a hearing last week with testimony heavily weighted against the concept. He said the Park City Council after the hearing last week did not have an opportunity to provide formal direction about the future of a facility, known as a repository.
“However, I’ve never known this Council to force an issue against public sentiment, so I think it is safe to say the repository remains ‘on pause’ and City staff will be exploring alternatives before they come back to Council this fall,” Beerman said.
He expects Park City Manager Matt Dias will approach the elected officials at the next City Council meeting “to formally confirm this approach.” The City Council is not scheduled to meet again until Aug. 19.
The timing of any restarting of the discussions in the fall could be intriguing with the City Hall election season expected to have become tense by then. The mayor’s office and two seats on the City Council are on the ballot in November.
A primary election in August will finalize the slate of candidates, and Miners Day in early September is traditionally seen as the start of the fall politicking season in Park City. Beerman is seeking reelection and is one of three candidates for the mayor’s office. The others are City Councilor Nann Worel and investment banker David Dobkin. There are eight candidates for the City Council.
The concept of City Hall developing a repository is expected to be a campaign issue, particularly if the current slate of elected officials return to the discussions during the key stretch of the election in the fall. Some of the City Council candidates testified in opposition at the recent hearing.
The concept to build a repository envisions a facility on municipal land at the intersection of S.R. 248 and Richardson Flat Road. Silver mining-era materials containing lead, arsenic and other contaminants would be stored at the location.
Officials say developing a repository would save money and allow Park City to take responsibility for the soils rather than putting that burden on another community.
Park City was founded as a silver-mining camp and the industry drove the local economy through the middle of the 20th century before collapsing. The industry left a legacy of contaminated land.
The opposition is worried about issues like the potential impacts on the land, water and air, arguing the location is close to residences and acreage used for recreation.
The repository would add another hotly contested issue to the campaign if it becomes a platform plank for the candidates. Other topics that are expected to be addressed during the campaign include growth, the economy, transportation and the community’s recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
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