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So that’s where we stored the evidence

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Police Department knows the local narcotics trade was thriving by the mid-1980s, as Park City was rising as a top-shelf ski destination.

The department, though, didn’t realize until recently that it still had evidence seized in an investigation during that era, when cocaine was seen by its users as the glamorous ski-town drug.

A construction worker on Aug. 15 working in the area of the Marsac Building where the Police Department kept its offices for years stumbled upon what appears to be long-forgotten evidence of a narcotics or drug paraphernalia case.

Dave Gustafson, who is managing the renovation of the Marsac Building for the city government, says the demolition worker was cleaning out cabinets in the abandoned Police Department space when he discovered the evidence.

A police officer was summoned and collected what the authorities describe as paraphernalia. Gustafson says the find occurred in an area close to where the Police Department’s captains — Rick Ryan and Phil Kirk – once had their offices.

Ryan says the paraphernalia dates to a 1985 case, but he did not have details of the charges on Monday. He says a scale, a mirror and canisters, all tools in the drug trade, were found in separate packages.

He says the workers found other packages as well, but Ryan, who started working for the Police Department in October, 1985, was not immediately sure what was inside. If narcotics were with the paraphernalia, there would have been a small amount, he says.

Ryan surmises the evidence had been set aside long ago for destruction. That happens once a case is completed and there is not a chance for further legal appeals, Ryan says. The captain says the paraphernalia will likely be destroyed.

He is not surprised with the find, saying there had been numerous smaller refurbishing efforts in the Marsac Building, when items would have been shuffled around, before the major one that is now happening. Ryan says he remains confident in the Police Department’s evidence storage in its former space in the Marsac Building.

"It was still a good, functional system," he says.

The police station at 2060 Park Ave. features more space for evidence, among numerous other upgrades from the Marsac Building offices the Police Department had. Ryan says the evidence room in the old space was secured and only Police Department members responsible for keeping the evidence safe were allowed inside.

Ryan says the Police Department did not make similar finds when it packed up its Marsac Building space for the move to the Park Avenue station.

The Marsac Building closed earlier in 2008 for the renovation, which officials say will make the New Deal-era building safer in the event of an earthquake and more accessible to handicapped people. A checklist of upgrades to the building is also planned, including those that will make it easier to navigate for people with business with City Hall and some that will make it more environmentally friendly.

Officials expect to reopen the building by Christmas 2009. Gustafson says the demolition crews have completed 80 percent of their work and footings for walls designed to withstand an earthquake have been poured on the lower level.

The inside of the building has largely been hollowed out. Officials have not spoken at length about the work since it started, and Parkites have seemed to largely ignore the construction.

Gustafson says the find was "a surprise to us." He says the worker who found the evidence reported it to the construction superintendent. The police were then summoned to retrieve the evidence.

Gustafson says city administrators told workers in the Marsac Building to remove everything when they moved out. The staffers have moved to temporary quarters in Miners Hospital, a rented building off Bonanza Drive and elsewhere.

He says they left some items behind, though, when they left. Gustafson says some furniture was not moved out, and a wheelchair was discovered in a closet. Paperwork was also found inside the Marsac Building, he says,

"I was shocked. I was surprised there was something there," Gustafson says about the evidence.


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