Osguthorpe Farm deal hinges on additional $375,000
Summit Land Conservancy Director Cheryl Fox is getting desperate. The land trust organization has until March 31 to raise $375,000 to secure a conservation easement to preserve the Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road as open space, and Fox is starting to wonder, for the first time, if the land trust is going to fail to save the property from development.
Fox said the land trust has never failed before. The organization has more than 3,000 acres under easements for conserved land and is trying to add another 158 acres with the Osguthorpe Farm transaction. The farm is located in the Snyderville Basin adjacent to Willow Creek Park.
“The way we fundraise is to be as transparent as possible and this is where we are right now. I don’t have an ace in my shoe or a big foundation that is going to come in at the last minute and close the deal,” she said on Friday. “I just don’t have that.”
More than 1,000 people have donated $3.7 million toward the $17.85 million transaction. An additional $1 million has trickled in from foundations and local government, including $500,000 from Summit County. The Osguthorpe family recently lowered the purchase price, bringing their total contribution to $3.9 million.
Summit Land Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe family in 2017 to preserve the ongoing operation of the farm. The farm has been on the community’s radar for conservation for nearly 20 years.
The land trust secured an $8.8 million federal grant from a Farm Bill program to put toward the acquisition. The easement must be placed on the property by the end of April, Fox said, adding “That is why I need to have the money in hand at the end of March.” Otherwise the federal grant is lost.
Without a conservation easement, Fox said the property could be sold and developed. The farm is considered one of the last heritage farms on Old Ranch Road.
“I can’t remember a conservation transaction that failed,” Fox said. “This community consistently rallies around open space, and this is the one opportunity we have to take a little bit of control back from the system.”
Fox likened the situation to the effort in 2017 to raise $13 million for City Hall’s purchase of Bonanza Flat following Park City voters’ approval of a $25 million bond that funded most of the $38 million purchase. She said the transaction almost failed before an organization stepped in at the last minute to help the land trust reach its goal. That’s not the case this time, though.
“I’ve been on the phone with those same people and they already gave to this,” she said. “And now we are down to the finish line. We will just have to see if we can get there in this last week. That’s all I have left to do this otherwise we do fail.”
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