Don’t sacrifice Ironhorse neighborhood for BoPa redevelopment
The Ironhorse neighborhood is one of the best places to live in Park City. Its nineteen 2-4-story buildings are nestled on the hillside above the Prospector district, between the Rail Trail and open space and trails. It’s very affordable, close to City Park, boasts fantastic views over town, and has no through traffic. It’s a safe, quiet, and highly desirable place to live for its 600-plus working class residents who staff the local restaurants and ski areas, grocery and retail stores, banks and hotels.
Directly across Bonanza Drive lies a vast patchwork of land owned by a local developer. It’s home to Recycle Utah, Park City Clinic, Windy Ridge, and many other businesses. It’s also where Rocky Mountain Power operates an electrical substation that provides power to a significant portion of town. The substation must soon be upgraded and expanded to meet Park City’s increasing electrical needs. RMP wants to upgrade the substation in its existing location. The developer wants to redo the entire Bonanza Park (BoPa) area with new commercial, retail, and residential space, but doesn’t want to design around the substation, though he knew he would eventually have to deal with it after acquiring the property surrounding it. Instead, he has made the project contingent upon his ability to move the substation from its existing location, next to the Recycle Center, to a piece of property he owns on the Bonanza side of Lower Ironhorse Loop. He wants the substation, now mostly hidden from view, brought right out into the open in one of the most heavily traveled and densely populated parts of town.
The upgraded substation would have a two-acre footprint, with its transformers, towers, and wires surrounded by a massive 30-foot high wall. The prison-like design would partially hide the substation at ground level along Bonanza Drive and the Rail Trail, but would not hide the unsightly buzzing equipment from Ironhorse residents, who will be forced to look directly down on it from the upper loop, or live right next to it on the lower loop. Having a sprawling industrial facility right in the middle of our neighborhood will change its feel and could lower property values and make loans harder to obtain. Our amazing neighborhood will be ruined so that the commercial and residential tenants who don’t yet exist in BoPa will not have to look at a substation. This plan will lower our quality of life under the ruse of it being for the greater good. Mostly it will be good for the developer’s profits.
The Lower Ironhorse Condos are designated affordable rental housing, and many residents of the individually owned upper condos are renters as well. This demographic is much less likely to speak out and stand up for their community than those who own their homes, or reside in neighborhoods such as Park Meadows and Prospector. The developer knows this and is all too willing to dump his problem on those who can least afford it. If he had proposed moving the substation to Park Meadows, an angry mob would have descended on the Marsac Building with torches and pitchforks.
Many of us support the idea of redeveloping the BoPa area, but think it’s unnecessary to move the substation. The developer is quite capable of tailoring his development around the substation in its current location. Unfortunately, if our only option is to allow our neighborhood to be sacrificed so that BoPa can move forward, then we have no choice but to oppose the entire development.
This does not have to be the only choice. Several alternative sites for the substation were identified long ago. All are in existing commercial areas that don’t have people living near them, and all were ranked significantly higher for a substation relocation than Ironhorse, which was at the very bottom of the list. Somehow the major players were able to convince City Hall that a residential neighborhood is the best place for the substation. This is unfair, unjust, and ridiculous. The developer wins while Ironhorse loses. BoPa could be good for Park City, but not at the cost of ruining an entire residential neighborhood.
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Judy Horwitz writes in a guest editorial that Summit County voters must continue to support a vital source of funding for the area’s arts and culture institutions.