Utah Open Lands secures funds to finalize Snow Ranch Pasture deal
Utah Open Lands in the final days of fundraising secured the monies needed to complete a $6 million conservation agreement in Thaynes Canyon, a deal that relies heavily on Park City taxpayers even as the organization raised significant sums that were not directly tied to the Marsac Building.
The 19-acre Snow Ranch Pasture is off Thaynes Canyon Drive and Three Kings Drive close to the Park City Golf Club. Utah Open Lands reached an agreement to set aside the land from development through an instrument known as a conservation easement. Under such an easement, the land remains with the owner, but the development rights are stripped from the acreage.
Park City voters in 2018 agreed to contribute up to $3 million to the effort as part of a ballot measure that raised most of the funds needed for the unrelated acquisition of Treasure for conservation purposes. The Park City Council at a meeting last week agreed to put another $550,000 toward Snow Ranch Pasture, just days before a Sunday deadline for Utah Open Lands to raise the necessary funds. Of the $6 million overall total, City Hall pledged $3,550,000 while Utah Open Lands raised the remaining $2,450,000.
Wendy Fisher, the executive director of Utah Open Lands, said approximately $1 million was raised in the final five days of the fundraising, including the $550,000 from City Hall. The overall drive involved assistance from 850 individual contributors. The contributions included two from foundations that anonymously pledged an approximately $250,000 combined, Fisher said.
Fisher said City Hall will eventually own five acres of the 19-acre tract of land. The remaining 14 acres will remain under the ownership of the two branches of the Armstrong family that reached the agreement with Utah Open Lands with the development rights removed.
Fisher said she anticipates the transaction will be finalized within 90 days.
A member of the Armstrong family, Kerry Armstrong, indicated she would protect a nearby property — the location of a red barn — from development if the agreement for Snow Ranch Pasture was finalized, meaning the successful Utah Open Lands efforts has greater significance.
“I’ve been doing this for 29 years. This is probably the largest single contribution from a landowning family that I’ve ever seen. That’s significant,” Fisher said, explaining the $6 million price tag attached to the Snow Ranch Pasture agreement is well below the market value of $16 million.
Fisher said the land will remain largely as it is today. She said a snowshoe trail will be created on Snow Ranch Pasture starting during the upcoming winter.
Utah Open Lands has calculated the land could hold 48 houses under the zoning at the location. The organization has long said the preservation of the land is important for the scenic views and wildlife habitat.
City Hall’s initial contribution of $3 million was widely discussed during the campaign in 2018. Park City officials last week agreed to contribute the additional $550,000, saying the municipal government borrowed less than anticipated to acquire Treasure based on the strong performance of the bonds when they were put on the market. That left monies available to put toward Snow Ranch Pasture.
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Park City’s elected officials next week are scheduled to receive a briefing about the upcoming 2020 census. The census results are used for a variety of purposes, including funding formulas and crafting legislative and congressional districts boundaries.