Thaynes Canyon acreage on cusp of protection |

Thaynes Canyon acreage on cusp of protection

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall has struck a deal with a landowner in Thaynes Canyon to purchase 135 acres of open space, an agreement made notable by the acreage’s location on the edge of the neighborhood.

The Park City Council on Thursday will be asked to authorize the $5 million deal with the Armstrong family. The mountainous land runs west from the Silver Star development. It is close to Park City Mountain Resort, stretching toward the King Con ski lift, but the parcel does not extend into the resort’s boundaries.

City Hall’s open-space committee had recommended the City Council complete a deal for the land. The elected officials hold the authority to accept or reject the recommendation. It is expected the City Council will vote in favor of the deal, though, and the elected officials likely discussed the purchase during closed-door meetings previously. The deal will close on Sept. 30 if it is approved.

"Park City’s canyons are critical to what makes the town unique and the preservation of Thaynes Canyon will forever protect a part of this mountain community," Mayor Dana Williams said in a prepared statement released by City Hall.

According to the statement from City Hall, wildlife like elk, deer and moose inhabit the land. State wildlife officials consider the land habitable by black bears, the statement said.

There are no buildings on the land.

The City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Room 205 of the Park City Library and Education Center. A public hearing about the purchase is scheduled.

Diane Foster, who directs City Hall’s environmental programs and is involved with the local government’s open-space program, said the agreement is a "fair deal." It "preserves a lot of green space," she said.

"It’s viewshed and it’s entry corridor," Foster said, describing two key factors City Hall considers when deciding whether to purchase a parcel of open space.

The City Hall statement indicated the land is visible from several spots, including locations along the S.R. 224 entryway.

Utah Open Lands, a not-for-profit organization heavily involved in open-space issues, will hold what is known as a conservation easement on the land. Conservation easements, granted to a third party, are an additional layer of protection meant to ensure the land remains undeveloped.

City Hall officials see the purchase as a rare opportunity to protect a significant tract of land on the edge of a neighborhood. Many of the open-space deals involving substantial acreage have been made on the S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 entryways.

Foster said the local government had spoken to the Armstrong family on and off for more than 10 years. In the prepared statement released by City Hall, a family member, Kerry Armstrong, said the Armstrongs have long desired to keep the land undeveloped.

"Virtually every canyon around here is developed except this one, it would break our hearts to see this canyon suffer the same fate," Armstrong said in the statement, adding "it was never a question of if, just when was the right time to protect this canyon."

The deal is the first open-space purchase by City Hall since it partnered with Summit County in late 2008 to buy vast acreage in Round Valley and at Kimball Junction. That deal cost $25 million, with Park City and Summit County evenly splitting the cost.

According to the City Hall statement, the remaining funds from a voter-authorized open-space bond will be used for the purchase. Park City voters have overwhelmingly approved $40 million three open-space ballot measures since the late 1990s.

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