Guest editorial: What is community benefit?
Hi, Park City. We are the three founding members of Protect The Loop, a newly formed civic initiative aimed at facilitating high level community dialogue around Deer Valley’s/Alterra’s proposed development of the Snow Park base area, aka “The Loop.” Inspired by the community advocacy work our neighbors over at RRAD (Responsible Resort Area Development) do in response to potential development around the Park City Mountain base, our goal is to be a similarly informed and active resource for all stakeholders with an interest in the development application Alterra will soon bring back before the city Planning Commission.
Like countless locals and visitors, we rely on the Deer Valley Loop for more than just ski access. We use it to get to and from our neighborhoods and homes. We walk our dogs, ride bikes to concerts in the summer, safely teach our kids and grandkids to ride their own bikes, picnic around the ponds, and more. Just this fall, Parkites participated in an emergency community evacuation exercise originating from Lot 5. From here, we simulated escaping the dangers of an earthquake and wildfire when we boarded buses and followed Deer Valley Drive out as our one-and-only evacuation route.
To be sure, we are not anti-development. We honor the vested base area development rights Alterra inherited when it acquired Deer Valley, rights clearly defined and bound by the Deer Valley Large Scale Master Development Plan (MPD) Permit approved back in 1978. What we want to ensure, however, is that Alterra honors its immediate and extended community just as Deer Valley’s previous owners, Edgar and Polly Stern, always did and as Deer Valley/Alterra committed to in writing.
In a press release issued by the two companies in April 2021, they state: “…the resort has been considering ideas that meet the resort’s needs and honor the previous entitlement approvals and community sentiment. Deer Valley intends to remain within previously approved provisions… Our conceptual plans for Snow Park are designed to be consistent with Park City’s vision and values and respectful of our neighbors and the local community.”
Since then and under a new leadership team, Alterra has introduced an entirely new development proposal that seeks a Right Of Way (ROW) Vacation and Dedication. They are asking Park City Municipal to give up rights to — aka vacate — 114,530 square feet of city-owned property at the upper part of The Loop (current skier drop off/transit staging area) in order to add 2.6 developable acres that will generate immeasurably more commercial lease revenue for Alterra than its existing entitlements support. In exchange, Alterra would dedicate 40,257 square feet of Doe Pass Road, the single-lane road that currently functions to evacuate cars between Lots 4 and 5, to use as a new circulation route.
Collaborative community process can and should yield outcomes of relatively equal benefit for developer and Parkites alike. While benefits are clear for Alterra, we owe it to our friends, neighbors, workers, property owners, visitors, and Park City Municipal to understand objectively what stakeholders collectively perceive as community benefit (or loss) and advocate accordingly. To this end, we are formally surveying the community at large.
As of the writing of this editorial, more than 1,000 respondents have taken the time to thoughtfully complete what we believe is an unbiased, online survey. Before the survey closes on Dec. 4, we hope you too will share your valuable input. You can find it, along with more information, at our website: http://www.protecttheloop.org. Complete survey results will be presented at the Dec. 19 special Planning Commission meeting.
That same snow is leaving the mule deer that share our valleys on the edge of starvation, a place that they know in their bones — and leading to people feeding them, a controversial practice even by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
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