Park City moves toward a $25 million Bonanza Flats bond | ParkRecord.com

Park City moves toward a $25 million Bonanza Flats bond

Park City leaders on Thursday signaled their interest in asking voters to approve a $25 million ballot measure in November that could be used in a conservation deal for Bonanza Flats if the Wasatch County acreage off Guardsman Pass is available.

Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council addressed the prospects of a ballot measure in broad terms as they asked staffers to return with a bond resolution that will detail the question that would be put to voters. The City Council on Thursday, Aug. 11 will be presented with the ballot measure's language. The elected officials at that meeting will likely decide whether the bond is put to voters on Election Day.

City Hall continues to caution that the municipal government has not negotiated a deal to acquire the Bonanza Flats acreage. If a ballot measure were to pass and a deal is not reached, the bonds would not be sold.

The land covers approximately 1,400 acres just south of the Park City limits and downhill from Guardsman Pass. It has long been seen as a desirable swath of open space perched high above the Heber Valley and surrounded by mountain peaks. A firm called Redus, LLC owns the land. The firm is under the corporate umbrella of Wells Fargo and Midtown Acquisitions. They were the lenders that brought a foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family involving Bonanza Flats and other parcels of land in the area. Redus, LLC took possession of Bonanza Flats as a result of the foreclosure.

Tom Daley, the deputy Park City attorney, told the elected officials Thursday a $25 million sum would put City Hall in a position to make a "meaningful offer" for Bonanza Flats. He acknowledged another firm is currently in negotiations with Redus, LLC to acquire Bonanza Flats.

Bonanza Flats at one point was a critical piece of ground while Park City and the historic owner of the land, United Park City Mines, were negotiating a broad development deal that resulted in the 1990s approval of Empire Pass. At a time during those talks, Bonanza Flats was to be set aside as open space. The eventual deal between City Hall and United Park City Mines, though, allowed development at Bonanza Flats capped at 260 units. It was seen as a ski-and-golf development.

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Dana Williams, who led a development watchdog during that era and went on to serve three terms as the mayor of Park City ending in early 2014, addressed the elected officials on Thursday, mentioning the 1990s negotiations. He said a conservation deal for Bonanza Flats would be a strategic acquisition.

"It completes the moat, in a certain way," Williams said, referring to City Hall's traditional strategy of acquiring large tracts of open space on the Park City perimeter.

The City Councilors did not discuss the potential acquisition of Bonanza Flats in any detail on Thursday, but they mentioned topics like Park City's longtime desire to protect Bonanza Flats from development.