Park City’s Treasure deal: ‘amazing’ or financially irresponsible?
February 9, 2018
More than 40 people attended a Thursday informational session about City Hall's proposed acquisition of Treasure, a much larger crowd than a similar session held two days earlier, peppering City Hall officials with questions about what would be the municipal government's most expensive conservation deal.
The Thursday event at the Park City Library drew people from surrounding Old Town and other neighborhoods. Much of the core opposition to the Treasure development proposal is centered in Old Town, likely influencing the crowd size.
There was also earlier notice of the gathering at the library than there was prior to the one on Tuesday at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center.
The event was part of City Hall's efforts to explain the municipal government's agreement to acquire the Treasure land and attached development rights in a $64 million deal. The seller would be the Treasure partnership of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC. The Sweeney family in the 1980s secured an overall development approval for the hillside land overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift and later sold a 50 percent stake to Park City II, LLC.
There is long-running concern about the development proposal, which involves upward of 1 million square feet of residences, commercial space and convention space. Opponents worry about issues like increased traffic, the size of the buildings and the excavation that would be required.
City Hall reached the $64 million deal after there was limited progress after years of discussions about the project itself. The agreement hinges on Park City voters approving a ballot measure to raise approximately $50 million of the total. The precise number will be determined through the City Hall budgeting process in the spring and summer.
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The event at the library drew some of the core members of the Treasure opposition and others. Most of the people appeared to support the agreement between City Hall and the Treasure partnership. There were others, though, that expressed concern. Park City Councilors Nann Worel and Steve Joyce led the session with assistance from Matt Dias, the assistant Park City manager.
Dias explained City Hall does not intend to disrupt the ski terrain and infrastructure on the land if Treasure is acquired, saying that the connection between the Park City Mountain Resort slopes and Old Town is important to officials. Worel said City Hall would consider building trailheads if the land is acquired.
The crowd provided a range of comments like support for blocking a development on the land after the decades of talks and a question about whether it is a fiscally sound decision to acquire the land.
Niels Vernegaard, a critic of the Treasure development who lives in Old Town, told the officials he supports the agreement since it would eliminate the project.
"To me, it's an amazing deal," Vernegaard said.
But Tom Fey, a Park Meadows resident with questions about the agreement, inquired whether a professional appraisal had been conducted prior to City Hall reaching the agreement. He claimed it would be financially irresponsible for the municipal government to make a $6 million down payment that is due shortly.
The down payment would be put toward a 10 percent reduction in Treasure if the ballot measure fails. Dias said the Treasure partnership and the Park City Planning Commission would discuss how the project would be redesigned to account for the 10 percent reduction.
Others who spoke on Thursday wondered whether there could be financial assistance from the Snyderville Basin and told the officials some money could be raised if City Hall later sold part of the land.
The informational sessions were held a week before the City Council is set to hold an important meeting about the Treasure deal, scheduled on Thursday. More information is expected to be released early in the week in anticipation of the meeting on Thursday.