Summit County contributes $500,000 toward preservation of Basin farm
November 10, 2018
The Summit Land Conservancy is $500,000 closer to saving the Osguthorpe Farm on Old Ranch Road from development.
After nearly a year of negotiations between Summit County and Summit Land Conservancy, the County Council approved a $500,000 contribution on Wednesday toward the preservation of the 158-acre farm as a heritage amenity. The property is located adjacent to Willow Creek Park in the Snyderville Basin.
"That is a big chunk of money," said Cheryl Fox, executive director of the Summit Land Conservancy.
The Summit Land Conservancy entered into an agreement with the Osguthorpe Family to purchase a $14.2 million conservation easement to preserve the ongoing operation of the farm. The land trust secured an $8.8 million federal grant from a Farm Bill program that will be put toward the acquisition.
Summit County had originally offered $4 million toward the acquisition, but asked for recreation access to the property as part of the agreement. Summit Land Conservancy turned down the county's offer at the time because the terms would have violated the requirements of the federal grant.
Community members continued to urge the county to use open space funds for a contribution, sending letters and addressing the County Council on several occasions.
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The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District's Administrative Control Board encouraged the County Council to use open space funds in September to help with the land trust's purchase of a conservation easement.
However, County Council Chair Kim Carson said they couldn't reach an agreement about the recreation component,
"We looked at a number of different scenarios involving different amounts of contributions from the county, and we were just trying to find the right fit and what would work for the land owner and this is what we landed on," she said. "We were never able to find a workable recreation component for both Basin Recreation and the landowner because we in no way wanted to infringe upon Mr. Osguthorpe's operation."
The county used funds from the sale of a parcel within the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort for the grant. Carson said the money from that sale can be used toward purchasing open space within the Basin. She said it is used sparingly and doesn't come with the same requirements that are attached to other funds.
When asked what the county gets out of the deal without a recreation component, Carson said: The preservation of a beautiful piece of agriculture land within the heart of the Basin.
Fox agreed. While she said the discussions were a complicated process, elected officials just wanted to ensure tax dollars were being spent appropriately.
Fox said she was grateful the County Council negotiated with the land trust and the landowner. With the county's contribution, Summit Land Conservancy still needs to raise $1.8 million by March.
"We have to make it and that's just the way I feel about it," she said. "There are so many people who have contributed to it. What we are seeing is people are making second and even third gifts, so there is a lot of support out there. We need to close this deal."
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