Treasure critic: ‘this is not Park City’ | ParkRecord.com

Treasure critic: ‘this is not Park City’

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Rich Wyman, long a leader among the local development critics, delivered impassioned remarks on Wednesday night against the Sweeney family’s Treasure blueprints, urging the Park City Planning Commission to "send them back" as he condemned the project along a series of points.

Wyman’s testimony was some of the most pointed about Treasure in months, and he is the most notable person from outside the immediate neighborhood to enlist in what has been more typically localized opposition involving people from streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue.

Wyman, a musician and one of the people who founded the development watchdog Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth in the 1990s, told the Planning Commission the surrounding streets would be "dwarfed and crushed" by Treasure as the Sweeneys wand to build the project.

"Send them back to scale down the size," Wyman said, using the phrase "send them back" repeatedly as he argued against Treasure.

Wyman said the Sweeneys should be made to redo the blueprints in an effort to design a project that better fits with Old Town and there should be negotiations about purchasing the land to preserve as open space, an idea that the Sweeneys have repeatedly nixed.

He also invoked the dispute in the 1990s about the development that would later become Empire Pass, still regarded as Park City’s most contentious growth debate. Wyman, who was a key figure in those talks, said there have been similarities between the two, including opinions from the developers that they held rights to the projects. Wyman said the developers are uninterested in the effects on Park City.

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"I look at this. This is not Park City," he said about Treasure.

Wyman was one of four people to testify during a hearing that lasted just more than 20 minutes. People packed the Park City Council chambers for the meeting, but some who have testified before instead listened on Wednesday.

John Stafsholt, a Park City Council candidate, said the Treasure proposal does not work within the topography of the land, adding that he worries about the amount of excavation that will be required and the effects on drinking water.

The other three City Council candidates — Cindy Matsumoto, Mark Blue and Alex Butwinski — also attended the meeting. Mayor Dana Williams and his Election Day opponent, Brad Olch, did not attend.

The Sweeneys engaged City Hall with Treasure nearly six years ago, with the current discussions being the second of two key rounds of discussions between the two sides. Officials in the 1980s granted an overall development on Sweeney-held land at Treasure and close by parcels, but the family must obtain more detailed approvals before the project is built.

The Sweeneys are seeking an approval to put up 200 hotel rooms, 100 condominiums and commercial and meeting space on a hillside overlooking Old Town close to streets like Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue. Treasure would appear to be between 11 and 13 separate buildings, but they would be connected through an underground garage. Treasure encompasses just more than 1 million square feet of development, a slide shown on Wednesday indicated.

The tallest of the buildings would approach 100 feet tall, but the Sweeneys contend much of the bulk of the buildings would be built below the grade of the land and not be visible from most vantages, a common practice when building on mountainous terrain.

There appears to be increasing tension between the Sweeney side and City Hall as officials continue to comb through the family’s proposal and compare it to the 1980s approval. Katie Cattan, the City Hall planner assigned to Treasure, contends the Sweeneys are asking for more than three times the meeting, retail and restaurant space supporting the project than they are entitled to under the earlier approval.

The Sweeneys, though, disagree, and Pat Sweeney, who represents his family, told the Planning Commission on Wednesday the opinion represents a "wholesale change" from previous determinations by City Hall. It is a "grave concern," he said. Sweeney also disagrees with city statements regarding the excavation needed for the project.

The Planning Commission was not scheduled to make important decisions on Wednesday. The next meeting about Treasure is tentatively scheduled on Oct. 28, when the Planning Commission might tour the site. It would be the second visit to the grounds since August.