Summit County closer to finalizing purchase of 461-acre property in lower Silver Creek
Summit County is now one step closer to finalizing the purchase of a 461-acre property in lower Silver Creek.
County Councilors discussed the details surrounding the nearly $10.4 million purchase of the property owned by the estate of Florence J. Gillmor and the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation. The property is adjacent to the site known as the triangle parcel, located east of the U.S. 40 and Interstate 80 interchange.
County Councilors approved an administrative order on consent Wednesday that nearly resolves the county of any environmental liabilities associated with the cleanup of the property. The agreement was made among the county, the recreation district, the state, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The EPA says most of the Gillmor property has been contaminated by mine tailings. A portion of about 336 acres of the land is considered a Superfund site where hazardous waste has been dumped, left out in the open or otherwise improperly managed.
Elected officials view the property as a critical piece of land along the U.S. 40 corridor that could help further the county’s goals regarding open space, recreation and growth mitigation. Negotiations have been underway for more than five years. The purchase agreement was settled in 2018.
The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District has agreed to take control of nearly 450 acres, including the 112-acre triangle parcel, which the county jointly owns with Park City, for recreation and open space purposes. The district plans to build a trail system that would connect to Round Valley and the Silver Creek Village Center, which is currently under construction.
The remaining 125 acres of the combined parcels, located near Home Depot, would be reserved by the county for other developmental purposes. Roger Armstrong, County Council chair, said the property could be used for affordable housing, a senior center, a Recycle Utah site, or a public works facility. He said the county could even sell the property.
“The one thing that we are always concerned about is growth and we now have almost 448 acres that is not subject to development,” he said. “There was a lot of discussion comparing this purchase to the Osguthorpe property. But, you can see why the valuation for us was vastly different. This satisfies a significant number of uses.”
The 125-acre portion the county is eying for potential projects is not considered a Superfund site anymore.
“We have had conversations with the EPA for three or four years before we even entered into this agreement,” Armstrong said. “We were trying to figure out a way to solve issues within the U.S. 40 corridor. We figured if we controlled the property, it would help facilitate clean up. But, we had to figure out how we could avoid the liability. This just offers a new opportunity for the EPA to get this cleaned up.”
The recreation district would have to monitor the property if the EPA does clean it and create a work plan showing how it would oversee the property to make sure it is not disturbed any further.
If the county closes on the property, the recreation district would be able to begin constructing trails. It would not have to be cleaned up first.
“I think this presents some opportunities for Basin Recreation in terms of trails, connectivity and other recreation aspects that are really almost unique to this site,” said David Kottler, a recreation district board member.
Of the $10.4 million purchase price for the property, more than $7.5 million would be paid through recreation district bond open space funds and $2.8 million from other county funds. The recreation district would also pay $2.25 million to the county for the county’s interest in the triangle parcel, and $1.5 million from the total price would be paid by the Gillmor estate to the federal and state agencies to clean up the property, according to a county news release.
The administrative order of consent will need to still be signed by the state and federal parties and go through a 30-day EPA public comment period before the county can begin finalizing the purchase. County Manager Tom Fisher said he anticipates the county could close on the property in July or August.
County Councilor Chris Robinson, who was one of the lead negotiators along with Armstrong and Fisher, referred to the purchase as an “elegant solution” for all parties involved.
“It’s a win for us because we get no liability unless we become bad actors and we get 125 acres to meet the county’s strategic needs that has no EPA entanglement,” he said. “We control sprawl and we get to create fantastic trail connections. This could become another Swaner Preserve.”
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.