Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Do we really need (or want) an Arts District at Bonanza Park?

Dave Hedderly-Smith, Pinebrook

The $20 million “Arts District” proposal for Bonanza Park might be a good idea, but let’s not jump on it too quickly. Over the last few years the project’s developers and the city have come up with several other proposals for this area that have apparently now all gone by the wayside.

This Arts District proposal has clearly has seen a lot of work by the city’s planners and a few special interests. The Kimble Arts Center and Sundance Institute submitted letters-of-intent reflecting their respective real estate interests for the area to the city as soon as the thing went public.

And the general public? We’ve known about it for about 10 days. And now the City Council is apparently going to vote on establishing a new tax and committing $19.5 million for the land on Thursday! For a project that might break ground in 2018 or 2019, does this sound like good government to you or a rush job?

Regarding the proposal, first of all, the last thing the city needs is another 400 public parking spots. We’re told that traffic issues are one of our town’s top concerns. Over the past 25 years the city has lined the east side of Swede Alley with multi-level parking garages and, low and behold, people drive into town daily and use them! Now we claim we’re trying to get those people out of their cars and onto our busses. So we’re going to add another 400 public parking spots in the city? Huh?

The Bonanza Park area is adjacent to much of the lower-cost housing in Park City. The city claims that we need quite a bit more low-cost housing for our tourist industry workers. But putting an Arts District at Bonanza Park certainly won’t help maintain lower real estate prices in the adjacent neighborhoods. Maybe, rather than a subsidized Arts District, somebody should really seriously consider making Bonanza Park a hub of high-density, low-cost housing — certainly not a tenement-type housing project, but some multi-level apartment-type buildings that can house a fair number of our lower-wage workers at genuinely affordable rates.

In-town, low-cost employee housing would also help with the traffic mess.
The city claims that reducing traffic and generating affordable housing are among their major priorities. As Joe Biden once said, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”

If Park City really does need a Arts District, why Bonanza Park? Why not get a bit creative? The school district will apparently soon be abandoning Treasure Mountain Junior High School. Why not consider that area? In return for some of that land, the city and county could help the school district in finding and acquiring land that PCSD believes it will need for future school sites elsewhere in the district.
The Kimball Arts Center could start with a clean slate and build exactly the facilities it needs for exhibit rooms, studios, classrooms, offices, etc. The Sundance Institute could similarly build just what it wants. And these Arts District facilities would be next door to the school district’s Kearns Campus where our students would have access to the amenities.

Whatever the answers to these question may be, the community deserves a chance to thoroughly vet this proposal and consider alternatives. Why is our city in such a hurry to take an action that will clearly be contrary to both our traffic mitigation and affordable housing goals? And spend $20 million of public money in the process on a need that maybe isn’t really there? Let’s think this over a bit.