PCMR development opposition presses case using Treasure image, a misleading juxtaposition
City Hall-owned open space overlooking Old Town is nowhere near project location at base area
It appears to be dusk on a winter day in Park City.
The lights of Main Street and surrounding Old Town bring warmth to the scene in the photograph.
Kitty-corner to the image is a computer-generated rendering showing a concept for a major development at the Park City Mountain Resort base area. The white buildings, lacking the architectural details and colors of an eventual final product, sorely stick out amid the vegetation.
It is an extraordinary contrast between the two images.
“Which view would you prefer?” the web page, created by a group called the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition, reads. The words are placed just to the left of the image of Old Town and just above the rendering of the development.
“Towering buildings. Diminished views. Narrow sidewalks. Increased traffic congestion. Don’t let this become the future of Park City,” the web page says under the question “Which view would you prefer?”
It also says the coalition is not opposed to a project but “together, through responsible development, we can create a world class village at the base of PCMR that is exciting and beneficial for residents and visitors alike!”
However, as the discussions regarding the development proposal continue, and seem to be turning more difficult, the opposition web page shows a misleading juxtaposition of images.
The scene in the photograph next to the words “Which view would you prefer?” shows a section of the City Hall-owned Treasure hillside. The municipal government acquired that land in a $64 million conservation deal that blocked a major project. The ground is protected as open space.
The Treasure hillside, though, is not near the PCMR base area where a Provo developer called PEG Companies is pursuing the project that is now under consideration by the Park City Planning Commission. The PEG Companies proposal encompasses the vast PCMR parking lots, generally located between the 1300 and 1500 blocks of Lowell Avenue and Empire Avenue. The Treasure acreage in the image broadly covers land that would be south of the 800 block of Old Town streets. The northernmost point of the image’s frame, moreover, ends blocks from the location of the PCMR base area, meaning none of the land that would be developed as part of the blueprints for a project at PCMR is visible in the photo.
The Treasure land that makes up a section of the image on the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition web page was disputed for years before City Hall acquired the acreage in 2019. Park City leaders in the 1980s approved development rights on the Treasure hillside and nearby pieces of land. The ownership years later returned with a large development proposal on the hillside, triggering opposition to the project and a lengthy process that ultimately ended with the City Hall acquisition.
There are parallels between the current PCMR talks and those that unfolded during the Treasure discussions that make the inclusion of the image on the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition page even more intriguing.
In the case of the Treasure talks, the project was based on the overall approval secured in the 1980s. Critics contended what was envisioned in the 1980s no longer fit with the neighborhood years later. They also questioned whether the proposal jibed with what was approved in the 1980s. The current PCMR talks are based on a 1990s overall approval that involved the land that is included in the pending application as well as ground close by. And, like what unfolded during the Treasure discussions, the opposition to the plans at PCMR sees the proposal as not fitting with what had been approved originally. There were concerns about traffic, the size of the buildings and safety during the Treasure talks, similar to some of the worries regarding a project at PCMR.
The Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition page until recent days also prominently displayed a mountainous image of forests and snowy peaks. The text over the image said “Keep Park City Beautiful” and “Don’t let a developer’s vision of an over-crowded PCMR become our reality.” The mountainous landscape in the image, though, is not visible from the PCMR base area. The proposed development location looks toward places like the lower slopes of PCMR, the Deer Valley Resort slopes and the Aerie rather than the scene depicted. A Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition representative acknowledged the image shows the area of Guardsman Pass, a scenic, high-altitude locale south of Park City.
PEG Companies earlier reached an agreement with PCMR owner Vail Resorts to acquire the land for development. The deal is not expected to be completed until after the Planning Commission discussions. It is not clear when the Planning Commission will be prepared to cast what will be one of the most momentous development votes in Park City in years.
One of the officers of the Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition, Nancy Lazenby, said the group retained a marketing firm to create the web page. She acknowledged the original images were stock photos that were selected to “just identify open space,” the “mountain lifestyle” and Park City’s beauty. She said the group is using “whatever photos are available to us” in an effort to save funds to be put toward other Responsible Resort Area Development Coalition efforts against the proposal. The group removed one of the photos — the one showing Guardsman Pass — and replaced it with one of PCMR after a Park Record inquiry.
“It never even registered that was Treasure land,” Lazenby said about the other image, which the organization continued to use through the middle of the week.
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Park City Attorney Margaret Plane recently sent a memo to elected and appointed officials, as well as candidates in the City Hall election, cautioning them about making public statements regarding development proposals. The memo outlines that stands on planning and zoning matters could jeopardize a later process, such as when a decision by the Planning Commission is put to the City Council through an appeal.