Ski resort proposed for Oquirrh Mtns.
Utah ski areas may gain a new competitor in the years to come. Kennecott Land and the Salt Lake County Council of Governments held the first three of four summit meetings to discuss development for Salt Lake County s West Bench. The master development proposal for 79,000 Kennecott-owned acres along the Oquirrh Mountains includes a possible ski resort. Jana Kettering, senior communication specialist for Kennecott Land, said development plans for the unincorporated acres will maintain a strong outdoor recreational focus, with parks and pathways, mountain trail systems and a possible ski resort. Up to 40 percent of the property will be designated for open space. We will be opening up the Oquirrhs like they have never been opened before to skiing, hiking, camping and mountain biking, Kettering said. Kettering said studies are being conducted to monitor snow pack in the Oquirrhs to determine if the mountains can support the proposed ski area. Information on canyon access and level of vertical feet for some of the north-facing slopes will be collected and analyzed. From what we can tell, it could be the closest ski resort to an international airport in a metropolitan area, she said. Bill Malone, Park City Chamber of Commerce executive director, said it is too early to tell if a new ski resort would have an economic effect on tourism at Park City ski resorts. He said there should be no concern for the near future because building the infrastructure for a destination ski resort takes years. You never say never, but it is probably a long way off of having any impact, he said. The West Bench proposed master plan includes 165,000 residential housing units over a stretch of 25 miles, urban centers, village centers, schools, industrial and commercial space. Jeff Daugherty, division director of Salt Lake County Public Works and Planning Development, said the proximity of the Oquirrhs to Salt Lake International Airport was highlighted during one of the last summit meetings. It s certainly an economic draw, Daugherty said. Audrey Smith, associate public information officer for the Salt Lake County Mayor s Office, said the West Bench master plan includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic development and as many as 100,000 new jobs. Smith said the west bench planning will help accommodate a growing population in Salt Lake Valley and along the Wasatch Front. The Governor s Office of Planning projects that the Salt Lake Valley population will double in the next 35 years. According to an Envision Utah study there were 1.9 million people living along the Wasatch Front in 2000 and there are expected to be 3.1 million people by 2030. Kettering said the proposed west bench development would take place over the next 50 years. It is an unprecedented opportunity to think through what options we want in this valley and how we want them offered, she said. Kettering said over 100 community leaders attend the West Bench summits. She said mayors, city planners, and representatives from environment and wildlife groups and regional planning departments such as Envision Utah are all involved in revising the proposed plans. The final summit meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7. Kettering said after a revised master plan for the West Bench is presented at the summit meeting scheduled in December, public meetings and planning and zoning details will begin. Construction of another community similar to Daybreak, a new residential and commercial area in South Jordan on Kennecott-owned land, could begin within the next five years. Daybreak includes 4,100 acres with 13,600 homes and 9.1 million square feet of industrial and retail space. So far 300 homes have been built and occupied and 750 homes have been purchased in Daybreak. Kennecott Land owns 93,000 acres of unincorporated land in the Oquirrh Mountains and foothills of the western Salt Lake Valley and Tooele County. Kettering said people looking for more information about the West Bench proposed plans can pick up a Kennecott notebook in Salt Lake City public libraries.
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