Park City pressed to release protected Treasure information
The Treasure partnership has released volumes of information about the project over the years, making extensive submittals to City Hall and creating a website jammed with details about the polarizing development proposal.
But last week, a former mayor of Park City said even more should be made public. In an unexpected request to the Park City Planning Commission, Dana Williams asked the panel to seek documents that remain guarded centering on discussions held between City Hall and the Treasure side about the prospects of a conservation deal for some of the Treasure acreage.
The documents were used by negotiating teams from the two sides earlier in the decade as they attempted to craft a deal. They were unable to reach a conservation agreement and the details of the discussions, as well as the documents the parties produced, were tightly held since they are believed to include information about appraisals and similar documents that a government is able to guard from public view.
Williams asked the Planning Commission to request the documents be made public as part of a wide-ranging hearing about Treasure last Wednesday. Williams did not speak extensively about the topic of a release of documents and the Planning Commission did not respond to the request.
The conservation negotiations between City Hall and the Treasure side – consisting of the Sweeney family, which is the traditional landowner, and a partner known as Park City II, LLC — unfolded between 2010 and 2013. There was only limited information released about the talks during that period. Williams, at the time the mayor, was one of City Hall’s negotiators, meaning he has detailed knowledge of the information that was passed between the sides privately.
In an interview, Williams said the information would be “very beneficial to Planning Commission.” He said it could assist the panel as it addresses a variety of topics, including the amount of square footage involved in Treasure and a disputed category of square footage that many refer to as the back of house, or the space needed to operate a high-end lodging property.
“I think there was information that was gathered during that period that are some of the questions Planning Commission is asking for more information now,” Williams said, adding, “There were reports generated that are in line with questions Planning Commission has about specific topics.”
Williams, though, declined to provide details. He said the discussions about a conservation deal were conducted in closed-door sessions and he remains bound not to make public details.
The Planning Commission is in the early part of another review of Treasure that is expected to last months and perhaps even longer. The project is envisioned as approximately 1 million square feet of development on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
There remains broad opposition to Treasure more than a decade after the talks began. The displeasure with topics like traffic, the proposed height of Treasure and the overall design led to the unsuccessful negotiations for a conservation deal that produced the information Williams wants released.
A representative of the Sweeney family said in an interview the Treasure side is not considering authorizing the release of the information. Pat Sweeney, who is the family’s lead Treasure figure, noted the sides involved in the earlier negotiations agreed the information would not be released and each of the parties would need to authorize a release.
“There are some confidentiality agreements that involved the city, ourselves, our partners, third parties,” Sweeney said. “I’m not going to break our confidentiality agreements.”
Sweeney said the information deals with the prospects of a City Hall buyout of the development rights attached to the Treasure acreage and the idea of shifting some of the development rights to another location. Both of the topics were widely publicized earlier without some of the details the former mayor wants made public.
Sweeney said the information would “absolutely not” be useful to the Planning Commission or the public if it was released as the panel continues its talks about the development application. He said the information is “not relevant” to the current Planning Commission process. Sweeney also said much of the information about the idea of a shift of some of the development rights is already known.
“If that’s useful to the Planning Commission, that’s public knowledge,” he said.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.