Bonanza Flats land purchase will be a legacy for generations to come
The Park Record editorial, June 14-16, 2017
Park City residents are about to become the owners of 1,350 acres of wildflower-filled meadows and aspen-studded slopes. The Park City Council is expected to finalize its $38 million purchase of Bonanza Flats Thursday evening with a public celebration planned on Friday afternoon.
The agreement represents a monumental, multi-agency effort to preserve a vital parcel that serves as an integral watershed, wildlife habitat and playground for at least three counties.
Long a pipe dream of outdoor enthusiasts, the notion of purchasing the land gained traction last fall when Park City voters approved a $25 million bond to fund a lion’s share of the $38 million asking price. Approximately seven out of 10 voters supported the proposition. With that vote of confidence a number of others, including government entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals. jumped on board with pledges to secure the $13 million balance.
However, until this week, just four days from the June 15 deadline, it was unclear whether Park City could muster the funds to secure the deal. Thanks to some fancy fiscal footwork, City Hall announced on Monday the money was forthcoming.
Still, even after Friday’s celebration, there will be a lot of work to do to ensure Bonanza Flats’ future is secure. Park City and Wasatch County will need to hammer out a management plan that also meets guidelines recommended by Utah Open Lands.
Most of all, though, the fate of those pristine acres high above the city will be in the hands of those who hike, bike and ski there — or just drive through. As our popular National Parks can attest, public use can be as intense as development. Some users will have to temper their expectations in deference to the area’s role as a natural preserve.
It is also important to acknowledge that not all of those who enthusiastically checked the Bonanza Flats box on the ballot will actually pay the bill. For the next 16 years, property owners will see a noticeable tax hike — as much as $122 on an average-priced primary home and $220 for a business or vacation location. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude and a promise to take care of their investment as we would our own.
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