Park City pushes back closing on Bonanza Flats | ParkRecord.com

Park City pushes back closing on Bonanza Flats

Officials exercise $1.5 million option as fundraising continues

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

Park City leaders on Thursday exercised an option that provides more time to raise the funds needed to finalize the acquisition of Bonanza Flats, a high-altitude tract of land in Wasatch County, in a conservation deal.

The Park City Council, as expected, voted unanimously in favor of the $1.5 million option. The payment to Redus, LLC, the landowner, is the second such option. The additional $1.5 million extends the closing date from March 15 until June 15. The three more months are needed as fundraising continues to close what was a $13 million gap between the $25 million Park City voters authorized in a 2016 ballot measure and the $38 million purchase price.

There remains confidence the gap will be closed by the June 15 deadline for closing. A broad fundraising campaign is underway, and there has been a series of successes in recent weeks. Summit County, notably, pledged $5,750,000 toward the acquisition.

Wendy Fisher, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, appeared at the City Council meeting to provide an update. She told Mayor Jack Thomas and the City Council the efforts are "doing well" and are on the threshold of closing the gap.

In an interview, Fisher said $1,845,000 has been raised from not-for-profit organizations, foundations and more than 1,500 individual donors from the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back.

Fisher said Salt Lake County next week will consider providing financial support. Salt Lake City is anticipated to assist through the Department of Public Utilities while a water district in Sandy is also considering a contribution, she said.

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Fisher said she is optimistic the full amount will be raised by the June 15 deadline.

"Having the city extend the option is a huge demonstration to the collective effort," she said.

Tim Henney, a member of the City Council, said during the meeting Park City officials wanted to ensure there was strong interest before the second option was approved. He said that interest has been shown. Andy Beerman, another member of the City Council, noted the fundraising has been a collaboration between the Wasatch Back and the Wasatch Front.

The City Council received applause after the vote approving the second option.

The approximately 1,350-acre Bonanza Flats parcel is located in Wasatch County downhill from Guardsman Pass. Conservationists have long coveted the land, but the acreage has also been seen as a potential site for development, perhaps a golf-and-ski project. It is a popular recreation spot that also is important as a watershed and as wildlife habitat.

Lenders took control of Bonanza Flats as part of a broad foreclosure case against the Talisker corporate family. The seller, Redus, LLC, is tied to the lenders. Park City afterward put the $25 million bond on the ballot with the hopes of negotiating a conservation deal.

The meeting on Thursday was held shortly after a Park City-led delegation met with elected officials in Wasatch County to discuss the planned acquisition. Park City will hold more detailed meetings with the Wasatch County side if the purchase is completed. A range of issues need to be discussed as a document outlining the protections on the land is crafted.