Record editorial: Vote ‘yes’ on bond and end the Treasure development dispute at last
It’s a vote more than three decades in the making, and the stakes are well established: Our decision will ripple through Park City for years.
Let’s end the dispute about the Treasure development once and for all.
Parkites can do just that by voting for the Treasure ballot measure, approving a $48 million bond to fund the bulk of a $64 million City Hall acquisition of the land. We won’t regret it when we stand on Main Street and look up at the hillside, secure in the knowledge that it will remain undisturbed.
That’s really what it comes down to.
The negative impacts of a large-scale development on the acreage like the one the owners of the land, the Treasure partnership, has proposed would be immense. Workers would blast away at the hillside for years, with thousands of trucks hauling away the earth and exacerbating our already-congested entryways.
The desire to avoid that is compelling. But the selling point, the factor that should unite residents all over Park City in favor of the bond, is the land itself. In our community, the importance of open space has never been in question. Development has sprung up around us, changing Park City from what it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago — but we’ve held firm in the idea that preserving iconic swaths of land is akin to safeguarding the identity of our town.
The Treasure acreage, looming above Old Town along the Town Lift, is no different. And passing the bond is the last chance to ensure a day will never come when a massive development overwhelms the hillside. (The bond would also include a contribution of up to $3 million to help Utah Open Lands secure a conservation easement on the 19-acre Snow Ranch Pasture land in Thaynes Canyon.)
True, the opportunity to preserve Treasure does not come cheap. The estimated cost for Park City taxpayers — $194 annually for a primary residence valued at roughly $800,000 and $353 for second homes and commercial properties of the same value — isn’t trivial and can’t be simply discounted as a night out on Main Street, as some bond supporters have propagated. There is valid concern about how the property tax increase would affect low-income families who already struggle to get by in our expensive town.
But the expense is ultimately worth it. Should the measure fail, there will not be an opportunity to negotiate another deal. The Treasure partnership is ready to push forward with a scaled-back project if voters reject the bond. A “no” vote from the Park City Planning Commission on the redesigned plans would likely be next, followed by an appeal and, potentially, a legal battle.
Anyone who desires the preservation of Treasure, whether or not they think the bond is the best way to do it, should bristle at the thought of that outcome. But we have the power to ensure it doesn’t happen and to extinguish, at last, any possibility of development on the land.
Parkites should wield it the same way they have whenever our community has had an opportunity to save open space. They should declare with their votes that the chance to conserve the Treasure land is too important to pass up.
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Our view: Pushing to protect watersheds in the Uinta Mountains would cost Summit County time and resources. But it can’t afford to do nothing.