Park City leaders’ $25,000 challenge for Bonanza Flats matched |

Park City leaders’ $25,000 challenge for Bonanza Flats matched

Nearly $3 million must still be raised to finalize conservation deal

by Jay Hamburger

The coalition of organizations raising funds for the acquisition of Bonanza Flats has secured the $25,000 needed to match a challenge posted personally by Mayor Jack Thomas and the five members of the Park City Council.

The elected officials put a combined $25,000 toward the efforts if the figure could be matched by others. Utah Open Lands, a not-for-profit organization heavily involved in the efforts, said on Wednesday a consortium of groups raised the $25,000 needed as a match. They included Utah Open Lands itself, Summit Land Conservancy, Mountain Trails Foundation, Save Our Canyons and Friends of Alta. The combination of groups based in the Park City area and those in the Salt Lake Valley is indicative of the regional efforts to raise the funds needed to complete the conservation acquisition. Utah Open Lands was confident from the outset that the $25,000 would be raised to match the contribution.

The mayor and City Councilors in early April posted the $25,000 challenge. The elected officials did not detail their individual contributions to the total. The sum, though, was not split equally six ways. It took approximately two weeks for the matching $25,000 to be raised. The deadline for the challenge was Tuesday.

The $25,000 posted by the elected officials is seen as especially important to the overall efforts even though the sum is small as compared to the $38 million price attached to the acquisition. Supporters of the acquisition say the contribution by the mayor and City Councilors sends a message to others who are considering financially assisting.

The elected officials in Park City spurred the movement to acquire Bonanza Flats for conservation purposes in 2016, asking voters inside the city to approve a $25 million ballot measure for Bonanza Flats before a deal was reached. The ballot measure passed, leading to the negotiations that resulted in the $38 million agreement.

A fundraising effort was launched to cover the $13 million gap between the ballot measure and the acquisition price. Utah Open Lands said midweek a little more than $2.9 million must still be raised. The organization said fundraising events will be scheduled in May. The deadline for finalizing the acquisition is June 15. City Hall has twice executed options extending time for the fundraising. Numerous individuals as well as public bodies like Summit County and Salt Lake City have pledged funds to the acquisition. The government of Wasatch County, where the land is located, recently said it would put $25,000 to the acquisition.

The landowner, a firm called Redus, LLC, is tied to the lenders that took control of the approximately 1,350-acre Bonanza Flats as part of a foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family. The high-altitude land is located downhill from Guardsman Pass, and is a popular recreation area for hikers, bicyclists, skiers and snowshoers.

There have been ideas over the past 20 years to build a golf-and-ski project in Bonanza Flats. An acquisition by City Hall is seen as a move that would check a major development close to the municipal border.

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