Newly appointed Park City Council Member Lynn Ware Peek and Mayor Andy Beerman discuss last night’s meeting.
Category Archives: THINC in the News
THINC members John Stafsholt, Kyra Parkhurst and Neils Vernegaard react to the news of Park City negotiating a potential buy out of Treasure Hill
Organizers of THINC, a Park City group that opposes the Treasure Hill development, have raised thousands of dollars for legal representation. They tell KPCW they’ll do everything they can to ensure the bond is passed in November. Melissa Allison has more:
The opposition to the Treasure proposal has repeatedly called for City Hall and the developer to reach a conservation agreement that would eliminate the prospects of a project of any size on the high-profile hillside.
Park City officials on Wednesday did just that as they finalized a rapid round of negotiations resulting in a deal to acquire the Treasure land for $64 million. The agreement hinges on Park City voters in November approving a ballot measure that will be set at approximately $50 million, with the remaining sum expected to be raised from the City Hall budget.
The opposition quickly cheered the agreement as something that will benefit the entire community. The opposition has long argued that the impacts of Treasure if it is developed would stretch through Park City with traffic backups, years of construction and what project critics say would be a blight on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift.
“It’s been our dream, our vision, our hope,” said Brian Van Hecke, an Empire Avenue resident who was one of the founders of a Treasure opposition group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition.
Van Hecke expressed gratitude toward the Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, for its willingness to negotiate an agreement with City Hall. He also praised the efforts of a roster of Park City officials, including Mayor Andy Beerman and former Mayor Jack Thomas.
Van Hecke said a conservation deal for Treasure would trump City Hall’s acquisition of Bonanza Flat as the most critical land purchase in Park City’s renowned open space program. The Treasure land is centrally located while Bonanza Flat is remote, he argued.
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The Park City Planning Commission on Wednesday night swiveled a spotlight toward the Sundance Film Festival as the panel, meeting a day before the festival opened, continued to discuss the Treasure development proposal but indicated more talks are desired next week.
The Planning Commission signaled it wants to meet again on Wednesday to address Treasure, a meeting that will take place as the festival continues. Traffic is normally bad during Sundance, and there are significant restrictions on parking in the vicinity of the Marsac Building for the festival. There was concern about the public’s opportunity to attend a meeting on Wednesday amid the Sundance hubbub.
The Planning Commissioners briefly considered perhaps receiving a written report next week from City Hall staffers in place of a meeting, but opted to gather instead. The panel members said they need information about Treasure that could be presented at a meeting on Wednesday as they prepare for a vote on a reimagined Treasure proposal shortly. It appears the Planning Commission will also meet about Treasure on Jan. 30, after the festival closes, depending on whether there are enough members available to hold a meeting and the availability of Mayor Andy Beerman to attend.
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Park City Planning Director Bruce Erickson with an update on Treasure at Wednesday’s meeting.
Bruce starts at around 1:40 minutes into the segment.
Park City Planning Director Bruce Erickson has a preview of Wednesday’s planning commission meeting. Bruce starts at 17:45:
Park City leaders on Thursday received testimony raising questions about whether voters later in 2018 would support a ballot measure to fund a deal to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure, illustrating continuing concern about the prospects of a bond that may be put to Parkites in November.
The idea that voters may reject what would be a $24 million ballot measure to fund most of the $30 million price tag has loomed over the discussions that have unfolded in recent weeks. A deal would hinge on the vote. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday continued their discussions about Treasure, but some of the testimony from the audience seemed especially important as the public weighs the possibility of a ballot measure.
There have been sporadic mentions of a Park City School District bond rejected by voters as people cautioned City Hall officials that a ballot measure to fund a Treasure deal may not succeed. That topic was again broached on Thursday.
Steven Swanson, a Treasure critic, was one of the speakers on Thursday that noted the School District bond. He said the failed bond in the School District showed that an open and public process is needed. Swanson also said the School District learned that a “concentrated minority of voters” impacted the results.
“In 2015, the district found out by a resounding defeat of their bond. So, if we don’t want to repeat that, I suppose my biggest suggestion would be to open the process up as much as possible. I understand maybe that’s beginning. That’s a good thing,” Swanson said.
He added that Park City is a different entity than the School District, which stretches well outside the Park City limits to incorporate the Snyderville Basin as well. The mayor told Swanson officials want the Treasure process to remain as transparent as possible.
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A leading Treasure opposition figure on Thursday told Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council people in Park City would support the acquisition of all of the development rights attached to the hillside land, a buyout option the opponents have long desired but one that appears highly unlikely in the weeks after City Hall negotiated a different agreement.
Park City officials addressed Treasure on consecutive days this week as the Planning Commission discussed the project on Wednesday followed by the elected officials on Thursday. The meetings were cordial, something that was particularly notable so shortly after a series of tension-filled Planning Commission gatherings about Treasure. The mayor and City Council earlier in December negotiated an agreement calling for the municipal government to acquire a 50 percent stake in Treasure for $30 million.
The agreement hinges on voters in Park City approving a ballot measure in November to raise the funds needed for the acquisition. If the deal is finalized, City Hall would acquire the Sweeney family’s stake in Treasure while the other side of the Treasure partnership, a firm called Park City II, LLC, would rework a scaled-back development proposal.
It appears there is concern within the Treasure opposition that voters may not authorize the $24 million needed to reach the $30 million total since half of the development rights would remain intact even if the ballot measure passes. City Hall’s popular open space program over the years has been used to acquire land outright or otherwise conserve acreage in perpetuity rather than reducing the scope of a project as in the case of the Treasure deal
Brian Van Hecke, with a group called the Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition, on Thursday told the elected officials the tone of the discussions is positive. He said the public would support the acquisition of all of the development rights, but additional rights would remain for a project under the agreement between City Hall and the Treasure partnership. He inquired whether a deal was available to acquire 100 percent of the development rights and asked whether the sides considered tapping a municipal program that allows development rights in certain locations to be shifted to another spot deemed better suited for growth. Van Hecke mentioned the parking lots at Park City Mountain Resort as a place where the Treasure development rights could be shifted.
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A prominent figure in the Treasure opposition group said the best outcome of the late-hour negotiations between City Hall and the development partnership would be the preservation of the hillside land as open space.
It would be a scenario the critics of the project have long desired but one that seemed highly unlikely until it was acknowledged on Wednesday that Park City officials and the Treasure side have been engaged in closed-door talks about an unspecified agreement regarding the project.
The Treasure Hill Impact Neighborhood Coalition has led the opposition to the development proposal, forming in response to the discussions about the project, sending representatives to testify at Park City Planning Commission meetings over the years and retaining a law firm to press Treasure issues.
Brian Van Hecke, one of the founders of the group and an Empire Avenue resident, said in an interview the desired result of the negotiations is the preservation of the entire property as open space. The Treasure partnership, consisting of the Sweeney family and a firm called Park City II, LLC, would “receive a fair return on their investment that honors their property rights, their true property rights.”
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