Guest editorial: Develop Treasure into an ecofriendly paradise | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial: Develop Treasure into an ecofriendly paradise

Mary Whitesides, Park City

The Treasure Hill developers should be responsible stewards of the land, yet its master plan is antiquated. The buildings are not LEEDS certified even though the developers call them green. The architects and engineers should know better. Environmental architecture is now the foremost way to construct buildings that honor the land and fit the site and is taught seriously at most universities. It is the way of the future. Tourists are looking for environmental resorts in increasing numbers every year and exponentially every generation. That will make Treasure Hill a white elephant in the very near future.

Tourism depends on environmental quality more than any other activity and a central precept in tourism is not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Yet, it is characterized by short-sighted development which often damages the very environment people flock to enjoy. Without careful attention, the balance between the volume and type of tourist activity, and the sensitivity and carrying capacities of the resources being developed, tourism projects on the density and scale of Treasure Hill are not only environmentally harmful but also economically self-defeating.

Resort developments like this can cause harm to the environment on which it is located causing architectural pollution, a condition where resort facilities clash with the native surroundings and architecture. In mountain areas, where tourism development evolves into a mass density development, the infrastructures are unable to handle the numbers and intensity of tourism causing, high water usage, energy hogs, supply failures, pollution, health hazards.

They cause segregation of local residents, as well, and bring about the serious consequence of traffic congestion.

Ecotourism has been prescribed as the alternative solution to tourism. Ecotourism allows for a more sustainable alternative to mass tourism, not only benefiting the environment, but the local population as well.

I dreamed Treasure Hill turned into the Sweeney Sanctuary, that the family built a LEEDS-certified visitors center with a sustainable design located at the trailhead with recycled materials, rainwater collection, roof foliage and asolar trellis. The center would supply biking and hiking trail maps and wildlife information. Organize fall foliage hikes. Create water stations for bikers. Install benches for hikers. Provide pamphlets on mining, native plants, geological information.

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I dreamed that the Sweeney Sanctuary built a LEEDS certified boutique inn settled down in Creole Gulch with a maximum of 25 rooms and a small conference room accommodating 50 people with digital capabilities for people to join the conference around the world on large screen TV. Thus eliminating huge crowds.

Even though Treasure Hill is surrounded by 110 acres of open land the mere density of it is Naturous Interruptus. Instead of trying to emulate the Montage, or St. Regis, which do not belong in Old Town any more than Treasure Hill, why not emulate Albion Basin in Alta listed on Travel Advisor as a destination for visitors and photographers from around the world. Research reveals that environment can increase or reduce stress. What one is seeing, hearing, experiencing is changing mood, nerves, endocrine and immune systems.

So why not:

  • Seed Creole, Quittin Time and Nastar with native wild flowers.
  • Maintain and enhance the trails. Plant wildflowers along paths.
  • Become a hub for environmentalists, botanists, Sierra Club, HEAL
  • Be revered rather than reviled
  • Enhance rather than impose
  • Educate rather than suffocate
  • Care for and protect, rather than invade and plunder

    The Sweeney Sanctuary would be applauded, appreciated, admired, and cherished for many years to come, a legacy such a family could be proud of.

    To view the full impact of Treasure Hill visit thincpc.org.
    To voice your opinion, please send your thoughts to: planning@parkcity.org