Talisker taps ex-Park City planner
Talisker Corp., which is developing much of Empire Pass in Deer Valley, has tapped a former Park City planning director as a consultant on projects in Summit County.
Snyderville Basin resident Patrick Putt began advising Talisker on its controversial White Saddle development near Kamas after leaving his post as City Hall’s top planner last February. White Saddle is a gated community proposed near the Tuhaye golf resort on State Road 248.
"Talisker is one of a handful of projects I’ve got going on," Putt said. "Maybe I’m just too naive about it and maybe this won’t work, but I’m enjoying it right now."
Putt insists the Talisker arrangement does not violate City Hall conflict-of-interest rules meant to keep government officials from colluding with private enterprise when they leave the public sector. Putt had refereed development battles in Park City for almost 13 years when he left City Hall.
"I haven’t really been involved in anything that would be, in my mind, coloring over the line. The basic ethics rule is, I shouldn’t be representing projects that I worked on as the planning director, and that means Pat doesn’t all of the sudden show up at the table as a project manager," Putt said in a telephone interview Friday. "That’s appropriate and I have taken great care not to do that."
Still, Putt wouldn’t rule out possibly needing to advise Talisker on future projects within the Park City limits.
"Most of the stuff that I have wouldn’t fall under that category," Putt said. "I’ve got to take it project by project and day by day and I hope it works out."
Mayor Dana Williams said he is OK with Putt working with Talisker as long as Putt follows guidelines the city has for avoiding conflicts of interest.
"His consulting is outside of the city and that’s absolutely fine," Williams said Friday. "Our rules have to do more with if somebody has pending stuff in front of us, or they’re going to work for someone who is involved with the city. There are ethical questions on that."
Putt ended his run at City Hall last winter having become one of the most influential people in local government. His mark stretched from Empire Pass to Quinn’s Junction, where Talisker currently wants to build affordable housing and other developers are considering options.
"If [Putt] is not directly involved with the city or things that have been in front of us, I think we’re OK," Williams said.
As he left City Hall, Putt praised Talisker’s efforts in developing Empire Pass.
"What’s really important is that the community and Talisker appreciate this symbiotic relationship that they have. I believe Talisker fully appreciates that," Putt said. "I have never had an experience — whether I was working for the city or wasn’t working for the city — where [Talisker has] ever done anything that I didn’t think was appropriate."
Putt says he expected to enter private consulting and teach urban planning part-time at the University of Utah when he left City Hall.
"If people see me at the table with Talisker, do I think that people will say, ‘Whoa, what’s this?’" Putt replied when asked how his association with the developer will be perceived. "Of course, I’m not dumb."
Putt was a go-to person during years of Planning Commission meetings in Park City as City Hall rewrote development rules.
"I’ve never thought of it in terms of I’m advocating. Whether I do it for the city or whether I do it for Talisker or some other company or individual," Putt said. "Companies are just collections of people and like anybody else that is new to a community there is this ongoing orientation, both the community to Talisker and Talisker to the community."
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Court report: Week of June 22