Summit County contributes $1.5 million less than originally pledged | ParkRecord.com

Summit County contributes $1.5 million less than originally pledged

County had expected to pay $5.75 million toward the open-space purchase

Summit County's contribution toward Park City's purchase of the Bonanza Flats acreage is $1.5 million less than what was initially pledged because elected leaders were unable to reach an agreement on several land exchanges.

"We are $1.5 million short, which is disappointing," said Park City Council member Andy Beerman. "We are incredibly appreciative of what the county has contributed, which is more than anyone else. We just wish we could have done the bigger deal. We are down to the wire now and this is getting tricky."

In February, County Council members agreed to help finance the purchase of the coveted acreage in Wasatch County by pledging $5.75 million. The 1,350 acre tract of land is seen as a crucial piece of open space, located downhill from Guardsman Pass.

Wednesday, County Council members adopted a grant and open space agreement outlining the funding mechanisms needed to generate the $4.25 million the county is contributing. The agreements explain the partnerships between the county, City Hall and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and their role in any future management plans.

The County Council unanimously approved a $2 million Transient Room Tax grant to be paid to Park City for the Bonanza Flat purchase over the next three years, in addition to land transfers amounting to $2.25 million. County Council member Doug Clyde was not present. The county was unable to use open space funds to finance the contribution because the property is located outside of Summit County.

Under the agreement, City Hall will convey all interests in the Triangle Parcel, located east of the U.S. 40 and Interstate 80 interchange, and Quarry Mountain to the county, in exchange for the Old Ranch Hills property. In 2008, City Hall and the county jointly purchased the Triangle Parcel in the hopes of building a public works facility. The property will now remain as open space.

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With the transfer of the 50-acre Old Ranch Hills property adjacent to Round Valley, the entire area will now be under City Hall's management.

"The reason that figure is less is because there were some other properties we were considering including back in February that we believed we could make work, but environmentally and, for other reasons, we mutually decided we couldn't," said County Council Chair Chris Robinson. "We think this is a good solution that helps them (City Hall) and furthers our objectives."

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 November, Park City voters overwhelmingly approved a $25 million bond to fund most of the purchase, which closes on 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.

"We were closing the gap and this sets us back a little bit, but there is some hope and a couple of ways where we think we can fill that gap," Beerman said. "It puts us in an interesting place and does require us to scramble. But we think we have a couple of options."

Wendy Fisher, executive director of Utah Open Lands, said approximately $4.1 million needs to be raised before June 15. She added, "We are looking at every potential avenue to try and close the gap."

"I feel like the community work that has gone into raising the funds thus far and the success that we have had speaks well to the importance of protecting this property," Fisher said. "Now it means looking to Park City and maybe a big donor or even other agencies. Maybe this is the time for Salt Lake County to come in and aid this effort.

"I am still going to persevere and we will not let this dampen our spirits…It is what it is and we have to look forward and we have to make this happen and that is what I will focus on," Fisher said.

Once purchased, Robinson said it is still unclear how Bonanza Flats will be used or who will manage it. He added, "Park City has its hands full in just raising the $38 million."

"We would like a say in how it is managed, but those details have yet to be determined," Robinson said. "It took us a while just to figure out how to explain where the money was coming from and we tried hard to make the other properties work, it just wasn't in the cards for us. But, now Park City can do its thing and get this closed and we can celebrate a great acquisition of open space."