Summit County and Park City Councils negotiating a Bonanza Flats partnership
Few details have emerged since county pledged $5.75 million
While the Summit County and Park City Councils continue to negotiate a partnership on the purchase of the Bonanza Flats acreage, few details have emerged since the County Council pledged to contribute $5.75 million toward the acquisition.
In February, County Council members agreed to help finance the purchase of 1,350 acre tract of land for conservation, which is seen as a crucial piece of open space land located in Wasatch County, downhill from Guardsman Pass. City Hall had reached a $38 million deal with the property’s landowner to acquire the land as part of the city’s open space program.
In an interview with The Park Record on Tuesday, County Council Chair Chris Robinson said councilors from both governments are discussing agreements that would “spell out exactly how it is going to be done.”
“I think some of the initial pressure may have come off now that the city extended the option and I know they are working feverishly to backfill what they haven’t picked up from Salt Lake County,” Robinson said. “But we want to make sure the elected officials on both sides are in agreement on how to do it and how to make this work.”
Park City voters overwhelmingly approved a $25 million bond to fund most of the purchase, but $3 million is still needed by June 15. Utah Open Lands is currently leading the nonprofit coalition in private fundraising, along with the Summit Land Conservancy and Mountain Trails Foundation, among others. Last week, Park City leaders posted $25,000 of their own money in support of the fundraising efforts.
“We really want to help the city and we think it is an important acquisition for the whole community,” Robinson said. “But it’s not like we have sources of money of this magnitude just floating around. We are having to go through certain steps to really make this happen.”
Matt Leavitt, a finance officer with the county, said the only way the county can contribute the funds is to draw from the Transient Room Tax, a .1 percent sales tax on all overnight stays. The county annually receives 10 percent of these revenues.
“There has been some build up in savings, but it would require them to address some of their plans with the fairgrounds construction,” Leavitt said. “That fund it is restricted in what it could be used for, but it is restricted to recreation and bringing people into the county.”
Funding for the first phase of construction on the Summit County Fairgrounds, or approximately $5 million, is expected to come from the Transient Room Tax and Restaurant Tax revenues.
Robinson was reluctant to say whether Transient Room Tax revenues would be used to support the county’s contribution, adding “it is better that the city and county see eye to eye before we present something.”
“There is no point in going down that course if it doesn’t work for either of us,” Robinson said. “When we have collaborated on open space purchases in the past they have involved some land exchanges and other elements so that both parties’ objectives are being met.”
Robinson said he doesn’t believe the county’s pledge was made prematurely. He said “we wanted to go on the record of being highly supportive.” However, he acknowledged the need to ensure the county’s interests are preserved.
Robinson said both councils will likely reconvene to discuss the issue within the next couple of weeks.
“Bonanza Flats, while it’s important to us it’s not in the area most of our open space money comes from, which is the Snyderville Basin. It’s in Wasatch County, for heaven’s sake, and it wasn’t on the list of open spaces that the Basin Open Space Advisory Committee recommended we purchase,” Robinson said. “But we knew they were negotiating on it. Now we have to put our thinking caps on and figure out how to do that and when we have the details worked out, it will all make sense.”
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A gas leak forced the evacuation of North Summit High School and North Summit Middle School Monday afternoon in Coalville. No injuries were reported.