Park City readies gathering about contaminated soils amid continued worries about health, environment
Event offers an opportunity to hear from a range of speakers about the controversial project
City Hall has scheduled an informational event centered on the municipal government’s controversial efforts to develop a facility to store soils contaminated during Park City’s silver-mining era, a gathering that is expected to draw interest from a broad range of Parkites as the displeasure with the project continues.
Leaders have taken steps to build what is known as a repository along the S.R. 248 entryway, on municipal land at the intersection of the state highway and Richardson Flat Road. Materials containing contaminants like lead and arsenic would be stored there, with a repository designed to ultimately have space for 140,000 cubic-yards of material. City Hall would use the repository to store soils excavated from municipal projects like a planned arts and culture district and housing developments. The repository would also be made available for use by private homeowners for noncommercial purposes.
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing a City Hall application to build a repository.
The prospect of a repository along the entryway, between Prospector and Quinn’s Junction, has drawn intense criticism recently from people who live in Prospector and elsewhere. There is a range of concerns about the potential impact on health and the environment. There have also been worries about whether the community is well enough informed about the project. Those concerns prompted a City Hall-led informational effort that is underway and includes the upcoming event.
The event, slated for Tuesday, is designed as a panel discussion. The people tapped as panelists are:
• Park City Councilor Steve Joyce
• Jonathan Weidenhamer, who is City Hall’s economic development manager and is the project manager for the repository
• Clint McAffee, who is the public utilities director at City Hall
• Sally Elliott, who served in elected office in Park City and Summit County
• Brett Mickelson, an environmental engineer and the chair of the state Waste Management and Radiation Control Board, which operates within the state Department of Environmental Quality
• Rory Murphy, a Park City developer and a former United Park City Mines executive
In an interview, Joyce described the proposed repository as the “safest place soil has ever been stored in Park City.” He considers some places where mining-era materials are currently stored using a capping process, including in Prospector and Empire Canyon, to be repositories but ones without as many safety features as proposed in the project along S.R. 248, such as lining designed to guard against the materials leaching from the repository into the surrounding water table.
Joyce also said it was a surprise when the repository proposal became controversial recently after earlier discussions about the topic did not generate interest from the community.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council on Thursday briefly addressed the event after a critic of the project, Rich Wyman, questioned the makeup of the panel and whether the people who will speak are experts.
Wyman, a longtime activist in development matters and other issues, told the elected officials he wants people added to the panel who would represent a different view and approach the proposal with skepticism.
“I see people that are going to speak out on why we have to do this, or why we should do this or how we can do this. And I think it would also add a lot of credibility to this panel if you had some alternative points of view,” Wyman said.
He mentioned potential panelists like Summit County Councilor Roger Armstrong and former Park City Mayor Dana Williams, who have each expressed concerns. He also mentioned Murphy, prior to the developer’s addition to the roster of speakers.
Max Doilney, a member of the City Council, described the event as an opportunity to gather information rather than hold a debate. He said the event is not meant to be a “sales pitch” for the project. Joyce agreed that the event is not meant to win over the critics.
“I want to be able to explain why we did what we did, what the real facts are behind it and then answer everybody’s questions, so that we can have an informed engagement,” Joyce said at the meeting.
The event is scheduled on Tuesday at the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. A question-and-answer session is planned. The event will be recorded and posted to a municipal web page that is dedicated to the project, engageparkcity.org/park-city-soils-repository-overview. The event will also be livestreamed on the municipal Facebook page with the opportunity to ask questions in the comments section. The address is: facebook.com/ParkCityGovt. Questions can be submitted via email prior to the event. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Park City Council will soon be short one member and Parkites will have an opportunity to take the seat with no campaign required. Officials on Tuesday are scheduled to hold an event designed for people who are considering submitting their name as a candidate for the appointment.