Flagstaff and beyond: Wasatch and Summit Counties must work together | ParkRecord.com

Flagstaff and beyond: Wasatch and Summit Counties must work together

The Park Record editorial, march 1-3 2017

Park City is sending a delegation to a Wasatch County Council meeting today to talk about the future of Bonanza Flats, a critical swath of undeveloped land that embroiders their shared border along Empire Pass.

While there are no discernible property lines, the 1,350 acres that Park City residents voted to preserve through an open space bond last November are outside the city’s jurisdiction. The rolling alpine meadows, prized for their natural beauty and wildlife habitat, are part of Wasatch County and Park City leaders may find that while their own constituents enthusiastically embraced preserving Bonanza Flats, Wasatch County taxpayers may not feel the same way.

If developed, Bonanza Flats could generate significant tax revenues for Wasatch County. With significant portions of the county already off the tax rolls (three national forests and two state parks take up vast acreage in Wasatch County) it would be understandable if residents there took a dim view of losing additional prime real estate potential.

But we are hoping they will take a longer view.

Residents on the Heber side of Empire Pass should recognize the intrinsic value of the land — beyond its dollar value on the real estate market. In fact, the rate of development on the Park City side might serve as a cautionary tale, encouraging Wasatch County residents to see the wisdom of conservation as a way to rein in overbuilding.

The high-level summit between Park City and Wasatch County leaders is a welcome forum for discussing, not only Bonanza Flats, but myriad critical issues that already impact both communities and promise to remain critical priorities well into the future. Air and water quality, traffic, affordable housing, wildlife corridors and trails all benefit from regional attention.

We hope that Wednesday’s meeting is just one of many. As neighbors who share the same love of the landscape and the same concern for our quality of life, it is essential to work together.

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