Park City officials address contaminated soils facility, saying concept was not a secret |

Park City officials address contaminated soils facility, saying concept was not a secret

Critic of idea to build a repository worries that City Hall will distribute ‘propaganda’

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council met in person on Thursday at the Marsac Building, the first live meeting by the full slate of elected officials since early March of 2020. The meetings were held electronically for longer than a year in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City leaders on Thursday addressed the concept of building a facility to store soils with contaminants from the community’s silver-mining era, focusing the discussion on the efforts to publicize the prospects of developing what is known as a repository and hearing from Parkites with questions about the concept.

Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council did not address the details of the repository itself and instead spent time on the process undertaken by the municipal government. There has been concern in recent weeks about whether there was enough publicity and input from the public in recent months. City Hall staffers at the meeting outlined a public-relations effort that is planned to gather opinions about the project.

Steve Joyce, a member of the City Council, acknowledged that he was “caught off guard with this” as he spoke about the recent controversy centered on the concept of a repository. He said the project had been spoken about at previous public meetings. Joyce said if people had expressed worries months ago, the concept would not have advanced as it has.

“I don’t know how it happened. I mean, it wasn’t secret. It was public,” he said, indicating that “no one raised any flags.”

The mayor said he is confident officials will take the necessary time and gather opinions from the public.

The elected officials received input on Thursday regarding the publicity and the steps ahead.

Dana Williams, a former three-term mayor of Park City who dealt with the issue of soils during his administration, gave the public a “major bye” regarding the repository concept since so much attention in the last year was elsewhere. He said the 60-day public-relations effort crafted by Park City is not a long enough period.

Rich Wyman, a longtime Park City activist, acknowledged the spread of the novel coronavirus made it difficult for people to stay as involved as they otherwise would have been. He said the public should have been better informed and more efforts should have been made to engage the public earlier.

“I only heard about this two weeks ago, and I don’t think that it’s gotten the publicity that it should have gotten,” Wyman said.

He described that time is needed before decisions are finalized.

“Some of the comments I heard were 60 days to reassure people … That sounds like propaganda to me. Rather than to reassure people you want to take your time to include the public in this conversation and maybe this is not the right thing to do. So, you say you want to take some time just so you can reassure people — that sounds like you need some time so you can sell it to the people,” Wyman said.

The discussion and input on Thursday occurred as Park City officials have taken initial steps to build a repository on municipal land at the intersection of S.R. 248 and Richardson Flat Road, along the entryway.

City Hall wants to store soils containing contaminants from Park City’s silver-mining era at the location. Leaders say a repository is a better option than moving the materials to a facility in Tooele County. More detailed discussions by the elected officials are expected to be held later.

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